The brain is part of the central nervous system. Fluid and the skull surround and protect it. Nerves carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body telling our muscles how to move and coordinate actions of our internal organs.
Malignant brain and spinal tumors are relatively rare compared to other cancer types. Tumors that spread to the brain from other locations (that are metastatic) are more common than those that begin in the brain. It is estimated that approximately 35,000 patients will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor and 140,000 patients will develop brain metastasis each year. These tumors are slightly more prevalent in men than in women. Because they are located in such a critical area, spinal and brain cancers are complicated to treat and often involve a team of highly specialized clinicians.
Exposure to radiation and family history are the most common risk factors for brain cancer. Symptoms depend on tumor size, location and type. Pressure on a nerve or obstruction of fluid in the brain may cause the symptoms. The most common symptoms of brain tumors include headaches, nausea, vomiting, changes in hearing, speech or vision, difficulties with balance, problems with memory or numbness in the arms or legs.