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Who Gets Brain/CNS Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord is less than 1% (about 1 in 150 for men and 1 in 182 for women). Brain/CNS cancer accounts for about 1.5% of all cancers and 2.3% of all cancer-related deaths. The number grows significantly when benign tumors are factored in.
Most brain tumors are random, meaning they have no known cause. The most significant risk factor is exposure to radiation, either on the job or as cancer treatment. Other risk factors include:
- Cancer from another location – many cancers located elsewhere in the body have a tendency to spread to the brain.
- Immune system disorders - people with impaired immune systems have an increased risk of developing lymphomas of the brain or spinal cord.
- Genetic syndromes – people with rare cases of brain neurofibromatosis type 1 & 2 (NF1 & NF2), tuberous sclerosis, von Hippel-Lindau disease, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Gorlin syndrome, Turcot syndrome, and Cowden syndrome may be more susceptible to developing brain tumors.
- Other environmental factors - some believe that there are other environmental factors, particularly cell phone use, but this is undocumented.
Some tumors are more prevalent by age and gender. For instance, meningiomas are twice as prevalent in women as in men and occur primarily on those over age 65. Medulloblastomas are typically found in children and are slightly more common in boys.