Understanding Brain Tumors

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells growing inside the brain. Brain tumors may be cancerous or benign. Either way, the brain doesn’t have extra space available for tumors to expand. This means that they can be life-threatening. 

Primary brain tumors begin inside the brain. They are often benign. Secondary brain tumors come from cancers elsewhere in the body which spread to the brain.

Symptoms of a brain tumor

Some brain tumors have no symptoms. However, since the brain is involved in all the functions of the body, a brain tumor can have a very wide range of symptoms.

Some of the symptoms that can result from brain tumors:

  • headaches
  • confusion
  • changes in behavior or personality
  • loss of language 
  • vision problems
  • hearing problems
  • change in sense of smell
  • loss of feeling
  • loss of movement in a limb
  • nausea or vomiting
  • seizures


Surgery may be the primary treatment for a brain tumor. If all of the tumor can be removed, this may be the only treatment required. 

If not, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be required. 

Corticosteroids are sometimes prescribed, and there may be other kinds of treatments intended to improve quality of life during treatment.

Risk factors 

About 5% of brain tumors may have a genetic component. There are also statistical differences between people from different parts of the world that could suggest genetic factors. For example, people from Northern Europe are more likely to have these disorders than people from Japan.

It is also suspected that exposure to some kinds of chemicals may increase chances of developing a brain tumor. However, there is no proof of any connection at this point.

Exposure to X-rays is a known factor. Perhaps because of this, some people have worried that cell phone energy could also cause brain tumors. The amount of energy given off by cell phones or cell phone towers is much lower than that of X-rays. 

A number of large studies have been conducted, and none of them has shown any connection between cell phone use and brain tumor development. The FDA has made this statement: “Based on the studies … there is insufficient evidence to support a causal association between radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure and [tumor formation].”

A weakened immune system may be a risk factor. 

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