Being diagnosed with cancer can be a sad event in someone's life. For many forms of cancer that are caught in the early stages, there is a good chance that a person will live a normal life. Unfortunately, brain cancer is one type where the prognosis is bleak. This article will outline some aspects about late stage or terminal brain cancer.
There are two types of brain cancer: primary and secondary. Primary brain cancer originates in the skull, accounting for 50 per cent of all intracranial tumours. Secondary brain cancer comes from metastatic cancer cells that originate from other body parts and have migrated to the brain. When secondary brain cancer is diagnosed, it usually has a poor prognosis because it indicates that the original cancer has reached an advanced stage.
Brain cancer diagnoses do not have a positive outlook. According to the oncology channel website, it is the leading cause of cancer among people under 35 years old. Three out of 100,000 children are diagnosed with primary brain cancer. Secondary brain cancer is diagnosed between 20 and 30 per cent of people with metastatic cancers. Out of the average 17,000 people diagnosed with brain cancer each year, 13,000 of them die.
One known risk factor for brain cancer development is exposure to vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used in manufacturing pipes, wire coatings and car parts. It is also present in cigarette smoke. Oncologychannel.com suggests that people who live near chemical and manufacturing plants are at an increased risk of exposure to vinyl chloride. There are also genetic risk factors. The body has tumour suppressant genes that, if mutated or deleted, can increase risk of brain cancer development.
Location of the brain tumour will indicate the initial symptoms. If the tumour is obstructing the spinal fluid, it can cause extreme nausea and vomiting. Tumours located in the frontal lobe can impair some of the senses, behavioural judgment and paralysis on one side of the body. Tumours in the parietal lobe can cause seizures and lack of recognition. As the brain cancer progresses towards the terminal stages, the brain functions in these areas will become even more impaired. For example, lack of recognition can turn into inability to speak or write. Growing tumours in the frontal lobe may also reduce mental capacity and impair most or all of the senses.
Treatment for terminal stage brain cancer is very limited. Most treatments are done with the intentions to relieve pain. Surgery can be performed to remove parts of the tumour to prolong life. Removing the entire tumour is usually not possible since it will most likely permanently damage brain functions near its location. Sometimes a shunt can be placed near the spinal cord entry in order to relieve any spinal fluid that's blocked in the skull.
Research is being done on utilising a specific virus to treat brain cancer. University of Ottawa researchers discovered in 2000 that the vesicular stomatitis virus was able to kill developing brain tumour cells. They noted that the virus does not affect nearby healthy cells if it is administered along with the natural protein interferon.