A common question about severe or persistent headaches is whether they can be caused by a serious underlying health problem, such as a brain tumor.
Brain tumors are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, based on how malignant, or cancerous, they are, in an effort to anticipate the tumor’s likely growth rate. A grade of 1 is the least malignant, and is considered low-grade, while 4 is the most malignant and considered high-grade.
Susan Johnson was diagnosed with a rare, slow-growing brain tumor in 1992. More than 25 years later, Susan is living with cancer — thanks to the chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and clinical trials that have kept her tumor at bay.
Alex Berking, 24, is going through brain cancer treatment and experiencing a new connection to her late father—while drawing strength from his example.
Medically reviewed by David Reardon, MD Central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is an extremely rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that involves the brain and spinal cord, the primary components of your body’s central nervous system. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in lymphocytes, infection-fighting white blood cells that make up your immune … Read more
On what was supposed to be a memorable night for all the right reasons, things suddenly went terribly wrong for Marie Fricker. Arriving at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the birth of her first grandchild, she began experiencing dueling discomforts that rooted her to a bench in the front lobby: a sensation of searing heat … Read more
Medically reviewed by Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH Nausea and cancer are often related in that nausea can be a side effect of treatment, but can nausea be a symptom of cancer itself? If there is a tumor that lives in the colon, esophagus, stomach, or somewhere else in the bowel, it can cause a bowel … Read more
Vaccines, drugs, and modified human cells that activate the immune system against cancer have improved outcomes and prolonged lives in some types of cancer in the past few years. For patients with glioblastoma, the most common primary brain tumor in adults, immunotherapy has shown some promise in clinical trials — but it can’t yet be … Read more
Upon learning she had brain cancer in early 2016, Connie Etheridge immediately thought, “Thank goodness it’s me, and not my children.” Then, three months later, her son Trevor, 23, found out he too had brain cancer. It was a devastating double diagnosis, but the Etheridges have been by each other’s side through check-ups, radiation, and … Read more
Medically reviewed by Nancy U. Lin, MD When cells from a breast tumor metastasize — spread through the circulation to other tissues and organs — they can migrate to the brain and form secondary tumors, termed metastases (or “mets”) there. This is especially true of the more aggressive breast cancer types. “As many as half … Read more
In most cases, the diagnosis of a brain tumor can’t be traced to a particular cause or risk factor. As with many forms of cancer, brain tumor risk increases with age – although tumors can develop in younger people – and men have a somewhat greater risk than women. About five percent of brain tumors … Read more
It’s 19 months after being diagnosed with the aggressive brain tumor, glioblastoma, and Andrew Wall is itching to go back to work as a police officer. “Sitting around is not my thing,” says Wall, 53, who hasn’t yet been cleared to return to work as a police officer in Monroe, Connecticut – a job he has … Read more
In honor of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, David Reardon, MD, and Patrick Wen, MD, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology, went live on Facebook to answer questions about brain cancer. The doctors discussed advice for brain tumor patients, answered audience questions, and described the difference between the two major categories of brain cancers—primary cancer, developed in … Read more
The brain controls many vital bodily functions – and when a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from functioning normally. Nearly 80,000 new cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. … Read more
For many brain tumor patients, surgery is an important step in the treatment process. While recovering from brain surgery can be a difficult process, your care team will help support you through treatment and guide you through the recovery process. Once a patient is cleared by their care team for walking after brain surgery, light … Read more
By Tara Baysol My first truly extensive exposure to the health care system as a patient began in 2013 with my brain cancer diagnosis. It was, and continues to be, an eye-opening experience. One big challenge that presented itself early on in my cancer journey was learning how to navigate the system and advocate for … Read more
With football season in full swing, concussions and their long- and short-term consequences promise to be in the news. While the harmful effects of repeated concussions, especially among teens and young adults, have been well documented, any links between concussions and brain cancer are less clear. Multiple studies have endeavored to see if such links … Read more
Brain tumors can be among the most challenging cancers to treat. The blood-brain barrier, a natural defense mechanism that shields the brain from harm, can also prevent cancer treatments from reaching tumors. “It can be difficult to get treatments effectively into the brain,” says David Reardon, MD, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology. However, … Read more
The blood-brain barrier surrounds the brain and prevents harmful toxins and bacteria in the blood stream from entering the vital organ. What evolved as a life-saving defense, however, also blocks many drugs from reaching the brain, creating a major problem in treating brain tumors. The blood-brain barrier is formed by tightly-packed cells lining the walls … Read more
Historically, brain tumors have been some of the most challenging types of cancers. A protective barrier around the brain—called the “blood-brain barrier”—can prevent cancer treatments from reaching the tumor. Recently, increased interest in immunotherapy has given new hope to getting through this barrier. “We know the immune system can get into the brain to fight … Read more