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"What causes brain tumors to grow?"


I am a 34 year old female. I was told that I have a small benign brain tumor. What caused it to grow?


Receiving a diagnosis of a brain tumor--whether benign or not--is very unsettling news. You should feel raise any questions you have with your neurologist or neurosurgeon, as these are the physicians who will follow you and help treat this tumor, if it does need to be removed. The question of what causes tumors to grow is an excellent one--and the short answer is that we don't really know.

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Answering this question is clearly very important from a number of perspectives, not least of which is helping in the development of improved anti-cancer therapies or even cancer prevention. At the molecular level we do know that there are several signaling pathways that can become unregulated in tumor cells, including those in the brain. From a very general perspective, your brain tumor probably started with a single cell that developed an abnormality in one or more of the key genes that regulate cell growth. This allowed that single cell to proliferate and grow in an unchecked way...and over time that one cell led to more and more cells that eventually became the tumor found by your physicians. There is a possibility that if this tumor is removed the pathologists may be able to suggest which pathway or pathways are inappropriately activated. However, when it comes to discovering the very first events that led to the growth of this tumor, we will probably never know for sure. Again, please speak to your neurologist or neurosurgeon for more information.

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