Special Sub-Topic: Primary Brain Tumors
|Brain tumors are the leading cause of childhood cancer deaths in the United States.|
t. Although overall diagnoses for leukemia are still greater, fatalities from pediatric brain tumors surpassed pediatric leukemia in the year 2000.
|Like leukemia, progress in the treatment of pediatric brain tumors is advancing at an encouraging rate.|
f. The prognosis for most pediatric brain tumors has made little improvement in the last decade. More research is needed.
|Primary brain tumors rarely run in families.|
t. Primary means the tumor originates in the brain instead of spreading there from some other cancer. Except for one rare syndrome also involving colon cancer, primary brain tumors are not known to have an inherited component.
|Cellular phones have been proven to cause brain tumors.|
f. Several major public health agencies have evaluated cellular phone use and found no consistent association with the occurrence of brain tumors.
|Medication and therapy can recover some lost mental functions.|
t. The brain can be surprisingly resilient. With therapy people can relearn language skills, motor coordination, and daily living tasks. Medication to reduce swelling can reduce or temporarily reverse other deficits.
|Brain surgery is less risky than it used to be.|
t. Advances such as laser surgery have given patients good odds of surviving the operation. The main concerns today are deficits - possible losses of function caused by an operation. Many patients are turning to leading brain tumor treatment centers that have specialized equipment and experience.
|If a medical doctor says a brain tumor is benign and it isn't cancer, then there's nothing to worry about.|
f. Everyday use of a term sometimes means something different from the technical definition. "Cancer" refers to tumors that can spread to other parts of the body. Primary brain tumors rarely spread outside the central nervous system but in every other respect they behave like cancers. "Benign" is used to describe slow growing tumors. Throughout most of the body this would be harmless. Within the enclosed space of the skull, however, even a slow growing tumor can be fatal eventually.
|Some primary brain tumors are far more serious than others.|
t. Survival rates vary with precise diagnosis. Since tumor location can affect treatment options, this is important too.
|Brain tumors generally aren't easy to treat with chemotherapy.|
t. Some brain tumor types have poor responses to chemotherapy. This is at least partly due to a mechanism called the blood-brain barrier. Still, chemotherapy may be a good option. Doctors work closely with patients and families to determine the best choices for each individual case.
|Even people with the most serious types of brain tumor can sometimes enjoy months or years of high quality living...and maybe the hope of a brighter future if medical science advances.|
t. Patients who respond to initial treatment might return to work, family, or hobbies. This isn't the same as a cure. High grade brain tumors almost always recur. With luck and a positive outlook, some of these people may benefit from the next research breakthroughs in the field.
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