Brain Tumour Information

What’s a brain tumour?

The brain is the control centre of the body. Everything we do, think or feel involves the brain. It controls the body by sending electrical messages along nerve fibres. The nerve fibres run out of the base of the brain and join together to make the spinal cord. From the spinal cord the nerve fibres spread out to all areas of the body.

The brain is made of nerve cells called neurones. There are billions of these neurones. Also in the brain are other types of cells that support the neurones. These are called glial cells. Glial cells can become cancerous and grow into a brain tumour.

Different areas of the brain control different parts of the body as well as our thoughts, memories and feelings. There is a centre in the brain for speech, for example. And another for sight.

Brain tumours can develop anywhere in the brain. They can develop from:

  • The cells that make up the brain tissue
  • The nerves entering or leaving the brain
  • The coverings of the brain (the meninges)

They will cause different symptoms depending on the part of the brain they are growing in. So, to understand why brain tumours cause the symptoms they do, it helps to know a little about the brain and how it works.

Brain tumours in children occur in the central nervous system (CNS) and spinal cord. Together, these important organs control functions necessary to sustain life, such as breathing, heart rate, movement, thinking and learning. Important substances produced in the brain stimulate and control many other organs in the body.

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Other Tumours Include

  • Meningiomas - account for about a quarter of brain cancers and are formed from cells in the membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain.
  • Pituitary adenomas - tumours of the hormone-producing pituitary gland.
  • Acoustic neuromas - typically slow-growing tumours of the hearing nerve often found in older people.
  • Craniopharyngioma and ependymomas - often found in younger people.

Brain tumours are also graded in terms of how aggressive, abnormal or fast-growing the cells are. Exactly where the tumour forms is also critical, as some areas of the brain are much easier to operate on than others, where important structures are packed closely together. Unfortunately there are some brain tumours that are considered inoperable. Katy had a Brain Stem Diffuse Pontine Glioma which was inoperable with a terminal prognosis.

Please click here to see the up to date publication on brain tumours released by Brain Tumour Research on July 1st 2013: Report on National Research Funding 2013

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