CNS tumors are quite rare and represent about 1.3% of all tumors. Tumors that form inside the brain but that originate from metastatic cells coming from other districts such as, for example, the breast, liver, or lung, are more frequent. The new cases of CNS cancer estimated in 2015 were 5,700 split between men and women (I numeri del cancro in Italia, 2015, AIOM).
A cancerous degeneration can strike anywhere in the central nervous system, and for this reason there are many types of cancer. The most frequent are gliomas, which represent about 40% of all primary brain tumors. Gliomas include subtypes that often take their name from the cell type affected (astrocytomas, glioblastomas, oligodendrogliomas, ependymomas). Meningiomas are very frequent (about 30% of cases), have a very slow growth, and are malignant in less than 55% of cases.
The manifestations of a brain tumor mainly depend from its location and size of its mass. Because each area is responsible for a specific function, the latter will be more or less affected with a great variety of symptoms. For purpose of diagnosis, in addition to neurology tests assessing cognitive and motor deficiencies, there are other tools available for brain visualization such as CT scan and MRI.
Surgery is the main therapeutic choice in brain cancer and allows for an exact histological characterization of the tumor, required to plan potential post-op treatments. Radiation therapy often follows surgery, but can also be used alone or combined with chemotherapy, whenever surgery is not possible. Modern radiosurgery techniques allow to treat primary tumors or brain metastases of very small dimensions, located in areas that cannot be reached by surgery, with millimeter precision. These treatments are performed at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at San Pietro FBF.
(Source: AIRTUM, 2016; AIRC, 2016)
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