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Wellness & Prevention

Knowing the signs and symptoms of neurological
cancers is key to catching them early

According to the American Cancer Society, most tumors of the brain or neurological system are not associated with any risk factors. Knowing the signs and symptoms of early onset of the disease is key to prevent cancer's progression and early treatment.

Risk factors

The following factors* may increase your risk of brain/neurological cancer:

  • Radiation exposure to the head, most often as a result of treating other cancers.

  • Family history. Von Recklinghausen disease is the most common syndrome linked to brain or spinal cord tumors.

  • Tuberous sclerosis. People with this condition may have subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (low-grade astrocytomas that develop beneath the ependymal cells of the ventricles), along with other benign tumors of the brain, skin, heart, kidneys, and other organs. It is caused by changes in either the TSC1 or the TSC2 gene. These gene changes can be inherited from a parent, but in most cases they develop in people without a family history.

  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease. People with this condition tend to develop benign or cancerous tumors in different parts of the body, including hemangioblastomas (blood vessel tumors) in the brain, spinal cord, or retina, as well as tumors of the inner ear, kidney, adrenal gland, and pancreas. It is caused by changes in the VHL gene. Most often the gene changes are inherited, but in some cases the changes happen before birth in people whose parents don't have them.

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome. People with this condition are at higher risk for developing gliomas, along with breast cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, leukemia, and adrenal gland cancer, and certain other types of cancer. It is caused by changes in the TP53 gene.

  • Other inherited conditions, including Gorlin syndrome (basal cell nevus syndrome), Turcot syndrome, and Cowden syndrome are also linked with increased risks of certain types of brain and spinal cord tumors. Some families may have genetic disorders that are not well recognized or that may even be unique to a particular family.

*Source: American Cancer Society