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Brain cancer and the different types in young people

There are many different tumours that can grow in the brain. 

Who do they affect?

Brain tumours can affect people of any age. No one knows how they are caused. They can be fast growing or slow growing. They can also be primary tumours that is they have started from the brain tissue or secondary tumours that is they have started somewhere else and spread to the brain.

Glioma

There are many different cells in the brain and tumours are named after the cells they arise from for example “gliomas” begin in glial cells.

Treatment for Gliomas

Treatment depends on where the cells are located in the brain and what sort of cells it arises from.

Surgery is usually the first line of treatment but in some cases this may not be an option. Surgery in your brain may have significant side effects and you need to make sure you have discussed and understood all of this with your surgeon.

Radiation therapy may be a treatment option. This may be given with chemotherapy but also may be used on its own.

Chemotherapy once again might be a treatment option but this is dependent on the type of tumour you have.

There is always research going on to find more effective ways of treating brain cancer

Oligodendroglioma

This is a type of glioma. In general, surgery is the main treatment for an oligodendroglioma. 

The size and location of the tumour will determine whether or not further treatment will be required and if it is possible for the whole tumour to be removed. 

In some cases, surgery is not possible as there is a risk of damaging the rest of the brain. In this case the doctor will proceed with other forms of treatment such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Astrocytoma (also called an astrocyticglioma)

This is the most common type of glioma. It develops from an astrocyte, which is a star-shaped cell in the brain. 

Surgery is generally the first line of treatment for an astrocytoma. The aim of surgery is to remove the tumour. 

Radiotherapy may be used to destroy any remaining tumour that is not removed through surgery. 

Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the size of the tumour and to get rid of any cancer cells around the body. This may be used with surgery and radiotherapy.

Medulloblastoma

This is a brain tumour that develops in the early undeveloped cells of the brain. The aim of surgery is to remove as much tumour as possible. 

A medulloblastoma may block the ventricles (draining tubes) in the brain, causing a build up of CSF. Often a shunt or drain is then inserted to drain the excess fluid away. It can be very difficult to remove the entire tumour, so radiotherapy and chemotherapy are given after surgery.

Meningioma

This is a brain tumour that forms in the meninges is called a meningioma. The meninges are the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Whilst this type of tumour is most commonly found in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, they can also be found in any part of the brain or spinal cord. Meningiomas are mostly benign and are rarely malignant (that is, not cancerous).

Treatment for Meningioma 

Surgery is the preferred type of treatment for a meningioma as often the whole tumour can be removed without further treatment. However if surgery is not possible due to the position of the tumour, other treatment options are discussed such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

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