A brain tumor refers to a growth of abnormal cells in or near the brain. In the US, about 30 percent of tumors that start in the brain are primary brain tumors. A secondary brain tumor is characterized by the spread of cancer from another part of the body. The most common types of brain tumors are gliomas, meningiomas, pineal, and pituitary tumors.
A spinal tumor is caused by abnormal cell growth in or around the bones of the spine. These can also be cancerous or noncancerous. Tumors found in the vertebrae are called vertebral tumors, and those found in the spinal cord are called spinal cord tumors. The two main types of spinal tumors are intramedullary and extramedullary tumors.
Dignity Health provides comprehensive care to diagnose and treat all types of brain and spinal cancer in Arizona, as part of our oncology services. To learn more, Find a Doctor today.
Risk Factors for Spinal & Brain Cancer
As with all cancers, the causes of spinal and brain cancer are still unknown. However, some things make you more likely to develop the cancers.
Risk factors for brain cancer include:
- Family history of brain cancer
- An infection with EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) or CMV (c)ytomegalovirus
- Age — more common in children and older adults
- Male gender
- Caucasian race
- Exposure to radiation and electromagnetic fields
Risk factors for spinal cancer include:
- Family history of cancer, specifically breast, lung, prostate, or multiple myeloma
- Weakened immune system
- Hereditary disorders — Von Hippel-Lindau disease and neurofibromatosis (NF2)
- Exposure to radiation therapy or industrial chemicals
Spinal & Brain Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of spinal and brain cancer depend on what area of the brain or spinal column the tumor has affected.
Symptoms of brain cancer may include:
- Balance problems
- Change in touch, speech, memory, vision, hearing, or emotional state
- Difficulty swallowing or using the muscles of the face
- Memory problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness or paralysis
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Headache or pressure
- Changes in personality or judgement
Symptoms of spinal cancer may include:
- Muscle weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
- Change in bowel habits
- General loss of sensation
- Varying degrees of paralysis
- Deformities of the spine
- Problems standing or walking
- Difficulty with urination
- Pain when standing
Spinal & Brain Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health
Treatment for spinal or brain cancer depends on the location, type, and extent of the disease. At Dignity Health, our board-certified medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, and cancer care specialists work together to offer personalized treatment at every stage.
Treatment for spinal and brain cancer most often is surgery to remove all or part of the tumor. Doctors also rely on chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. For recurrent glioblastoma (a) type of glioma, doctors may try alternating electric field therapy or tumor treating fields.
Speak with an oncology expert at Dignity Health to learn more your options for care.
Oncologists at Dignity Health are dedicated to providing world-class treatment for types of brain and spinal cancer in Arizona.