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Are Brain Tumors More Common and Harmful In Men Than In Women?

The concept of brain tumor is daunting to anybody and the possibility of being diagnosed with a brain tumor is a shocking and a life-changing event. The brain is a complex and vital organ, and the treatment causes life-long changes.

Many people wonder if they are more susceptible to brain tumor due to their age or gender. Recent studies have brought to light the fact that men carry a significantly less active protein known as the retinoblastoma protein (RB), a protein known to reduce cancer risk, in their brain cells than women. This does indicate that men are more likely to get diagnosed with brain tumor.

A brain tumor, also known as an intracranial tumor, is an abnormal mass of tissue in which cells grow and multiply uncontrollably. Even though more than 150 different brain tumors have been documented, there are two main groups of brain tumors, termed primary (tumors that originate from the tissues of the brain or the brain’s immediate surroundings) and metastatic (tumors that arise elsewhere in the body (such as the breast or lungs) and migrate to the brain, usually through the bloodstream). Metastatic tumors are considered cancer and are malignant in nature.

There are no definite causes linked to brain tumors, but there are certain factors that may increase the risk and possibility of it.

  • The chances of brain cancer increases with age, with more occurrences in individuals aged 65 and older.
  • People with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of developing lymphomas of the brain.
  • Family history of the patient may affect the likelihood of developing certain diseases including tumors and cancers.
  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals or solvents has been associated to an increased risk in developing brain cancer. Although it is not conclusive, individuals who work in oil refining, rubber manufacturing and drug manufacturing have larger probability of developing certain types of brain tumor.
  • The likelihood of developing brain cancer may increase if there has been exposure to radiation therapy, particularly at a young age.

One factor that has also been considered while diagnosing brain tumor is gender. However, since the cases vary a lot between types of the tumor and contributed to the sex hormones, it is often brushed aside. A recent study has brought attention to the fact that retinoblastoma protein (RB), a protein known to reduce cancer risk, is significantly less active in male brain cells than in female brain cells. The most common malignant brain tumor is Glioblastoma and it kills about half of the patients within 14 months of diagnosis and is diagnosed nearly twice as often in males, compared with females.