Note: The information on cancer types on the ACRF website is not designed to provide medical or professional advice and is for information only. If you have any health problems or questions please consult your doctor.
Brain Cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the brain grow in an uncontrolled way. Brain cancers include primary brain tumours, which start in the brain, and secondary tumours (or metastases) which are caused by cancers that began in another part of the body.
There are more than 40 major types of brain tumours, which are grouped into two main types:
However, because the brain is enclosed in the skull, even benign tumours can be dangerous. The skull cannot expand to make room for a growing tumour, so the tumour may press on or damage delicate brain tissue, becoming life threatening.
Some benign brain tumours can also eventually give rise to malignant cells. For these reasons, instead of ‘malignant’ or ‘benign’, brain tumours are often described as being ‘high-grade’ (rapidly growing) or ‘low-grade’ (slowly growing).
The most common malignant (rapidly growing) tumours include:
Brain Cancer symptoms include:
It is important to note that there are a number of conditions that may cause these symptoms, not just brain cancer. If any of these symptoms are experienced it is important to discuss them with your GP.
Brain Cancer can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or steroid therapy, or a combination of these treatments. The type of treatment will depend on several factors including the stage of the disease, the severity of symptoms and the general health of the patient.
Some tumours can be removed completely by surgery (craniotomy). If a tumour has spread, or if it cannot be removed without damaging other important parts of the brain, the surgeon may still be able to remove part of the tumour, which will improve symptoms and quality of life by reducing the pressure on the rest of the brain.
Radiotherapy (x-rays that kill or injure cancer cells so they cannot multiply) is then used after the operation to help control tumour re-growth and help improve survival.
For glioblastomas, an oral chemotherapy drug may be added during or after radiotherapy treatment to further improve the patient’s outcome.
Other chemotherapy schedules may also be used to enhance treatment of the brain cancer.
In the event that the tumour cannot be removed by surgery, the aim of treatment is to slow the tumour growth and relieve symptoms by shrinking the tumour.
new cases are estimated to be diagnosed in 2018
is the five-year survival rate for brain cancer
years is the median age of brain cancer diagnosis
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Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
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