President Jimmy Carter announced this week that he has brain cancer. His prognosis is said to be fair as at his age and at the stage of the cancer, the symptoms are manageable. Although there is no cure for brain cancer treatment options can prolong his life as long as 5 to 7 years. Carter, 91, does have a history of cancers in his family, his parents as well as his two sisters and a brothers died from cancer.
What causes brain cancer? Brain cancer is primarily diagnosed as a result of metastasized cancers. In President Carter’s case, he was being treated for skin cancer and was having surgery to remove liver growths when the brain cancer was discovered. “Individuals with risk factors, such as having a job in an oil refinery, handlers of jet fuel or chemicals like benzene, chemists, embalmers, or rubber-industry workers, show higher rates of brain cancer than the general population. Some families have several members with brain cancer, but heredity (genetic passage of traits from parents to children) as a cause for brain tumors has not been proven. Other risk factors such as smoking, radiation exposure, and viral infection (HIV) have been suggested but not proven to cause brain cancer.” www.medicinenet.com Cell phones do not causes brain cancer neither does blows to the head. Sixties singer Tammi Terrell died from brain cancer and rumors surrounding her abusive relationship with other singers were thought to have caused the tumor but according to her family the tumors were congenital and discovered after her health took a turn for the worse. Valerie Harper was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 after an initial diagnosis of lung cancer.
Brain cancer, glioma, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, or whatever medical name given depending on its location in the brain and where it came from, is incurable; however, can be contained. Some of the symptoms of brain cancer are:
• Difficulty walking
Other nonspecific symptoms and signs include the following:
• Altered mental status — changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
• Nausea, vomiting
• Abnormalities in vision
• Difficulty with speech
• Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity
The onset of symptoms may be so gradual that it can often be missed by the patient or those around them. Early detection is critical in any disease.
Treatment options can be surgery, radiation, chemotherapy. If the tumor is small enough and depending on its location, the condition can be watched over several months perhaps years to monitor growth. Be sure to have annual physical exams and if there are any sudden and/or noticeable changes in your health, see your physician immediately.