VIGILANCE FOR BRAIN CANCER

Brain cancer is a very serious form of cancer. Recently, Sen. John McCain revealed he has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive type of brain tumor. GBMs originate in the brain; it does not spread there from another part of the body. The cause is not known. This tumor has no relation to melanoma, the skin cancer for which McCain was treated in the past.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT CHEMOTHERAPY

Chemotherapy is a standard treatment for cancer. It kills healthy cells along with cancer cells, inflicting damage on the body and seriously compromising the immune system. Chemotherapy also kills most rapidly dividing healthy and cancer cells, but not all the cells are fast growing. Cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small population of cancer cells that are slow growing and thus resistant to treatment, do not die. Chemotherapy makes these cells even more numerous as the ratio of highly malignant cells….

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RESTORING DIGNITY AND ’DOS

For many women facing cancer, the most devastating aspect is learning they may lose their hair due to chemotherapy.  “Most women tell me that as soon as they hear the oncologist say, ‘You’re going to lose your hair,’ that’s the last thing they remember hearing,” said Eric Johnson, co-owner, with his wife, Jeletta, of Hair Institute in Lexington. “They can deal with the sickness; they can deal with the treatments; but it’s the hair loss that gets them the most.

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Brain cancer is a very serious form of cancer. Recently, Sen. John McCain revealed he has been diagnosed with a primary glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive type of brain tumor. GBMs originate in the brain; it does not spread there from another part of the body. The cause is not known. This tumor has no relation to melanoma, the skin cancer for which McCain was treated in the past.


GBMs are tumors that arise from astrocytes, the star-shaped cells that make up the supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are usually highly malignant because the cells reproduce quickly and are supported by a large network of blood vessels in the brain.


According to WebMD, brain cancers are not common. However, when they do occur, about four out of five aren’t GBMs. Men are more likely to develop them than women. The chances of developing this type of cancer increases with age. WebMD notes doctors diagnose nearly 11,000 GBMs cases in the United States each year. Symptoms include constant headaches, seizures, vomiting, changes in mood or personality, double or blurred vision and difficulty speaking. With any of these symptoms, contacting your family physician is the first step in intervention.


Vigilance on the part of patients and family members is critical in

VIGILANCE FOR BRAIN CANCER

addressing this form of cancer early as new cases are expected in 2017, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. The medical community recognizes GBMs as grade 4 tumors, which means they grow fast and spread quickly. It is easy for GBMs to invade normal brain tissue. The tumors make their own blood supply, which helps them grow. Glioblastoma is treated like most cancers, so treatment may include surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, then radiation and chemotherapy. Research in this area includes a number of bio-markers, or molecular signatures, that have the potential to contribute to diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of response to therapy for glioblastoma.


Sources and Resources


DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller