Brain Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
Brain cancer is a malignant tumours growth in the tissues of the brain. Brain tumours can start in any part of the brain or related structures. Tumours that start in the brain are called primary brain tumours while cancerous cells develop in other parts of the body and spread to the brain are called secondary brain tumours or brain metastases.
There are many different types of brain tumours and they are often named after the type of cell they develop from. One example is a glioma, which grows from the supporting cells (glial cells) of the brain. The tumours may also be described based on their location, such as a brainstem glioma.
What Causes Brain Cancer?
The exact causes of brain cancer are unclear. However, scientists agree that certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing this disease. These include:
Brain tumors are more common in children aged under 8 years and adults aged 70 or older.
In general, brain cancer is slightly more common in men than in women. However, some specific types of brain tumors, such as meningioma, are more common in women.
Genetics or hereditary conditions
People who have inherited the following conditions are more likely to get cancer of the brain and other parts of the nervous system.
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Turcot syndrome
- Von Hippel-Lindau disease
- Neurofibromatosis type 1 (N1F1) or type 2 (N2F2)
Exposure to radiation
Exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation is known to increase the risk of brain cancer. Examples of ionizing radiation include radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs.
Weakened immune system
A weakened immune system may also make a person more susceptible to brain cancer. This can be caused by treatments for other cancers, treatment to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, or diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).