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  • What is brain and central nervous system cancer?
    • Brain cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain and central nervous system. The brain, spinal cord, meninges (tissues that cover the brain), cranial nerves and other parts of the central nervous system are responsible for communicating messages between the brain and the body.

      The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that cancers of the brain or spinal cord account for about 1.3% of all cancers and 2.2% of all cancer-related deaths among adults and children.

  • Who is at-risk for brain and central nervous system cancer?
    • Cancers of the brain occur in people of all ages but more frequently in two age groups:

      * Children aged younger than 15 years
      * Adults aged 65 years and older

      Cancers of the spinal cord are less common than cancers of the brain. Cancerous brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children. Cancers of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system are more common in white persons. Cancers of the meninges (tissues that cover the brain), are more common in women.

      Risk factors are different for children versus adults. Little is known about the causes of this group of diseases. Established risk factors include exposure to therapeutic doses of ionizing radiation, rare hereditary syndromes and family history.

  • How are brain and central nervous system cancers related to the environment?
    • Little is known about the causes of childhood and adult cancers of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.

      Research is being conducted to determine whether risk factors may be linked to cancer of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, however, much more research is necessary. The factors that have been investigated include:
      * Electromagnetic fields (including cellular and cordless phone use)
      * Occupational exposure to asbestos, arsenic, wood dust, benzene, mercury, lead, pesticides, and other chemicals
      * Ingestion of n-nitroso compounds through food, drinking water, and smoking
      * Use of hair dyes and sprays
      * Dietary calcium intake
      * Infections
      * Allergies and other immune system factors
      * Drinking alcohol
      * Genetic polymorphisms
      * Family history
      * Head trauma
      * Reproductive and hormonal factors

  • How can you prevent brain and central nervous system cancers?
    • Recommendations for preventing brain or central nervous system tumors are undefined because their causes are unknown. In general, avoiding unnecessary radiation exposure can prevent many types of cancer.

      Some factors account for a small portion of these cancers. About 5% of brain tumors are due to hereditary factors. Persons with rare genetic conditions such as Li-Fraumeni cancer family syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, von Recklinghausen's disease (neurofibromatosis type 1), neurofibromatosis type 2, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and familial polyposis are at greater risk for cancer of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.

      Research is being conducted to determine whether additional factors may be linked to cancer of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, however, much more research is necessary.

Last Revised: January 28, 2014

Data

Data Query

Brain and Central Nervous System Cancer Data:
Access the brain and central nervous system cancer data in the WI EPHT online database. Review the Data Details below to learn about interpreting the data.

The WI EPHT online database has data about other specific cancers:

Data Details

What is the data source?

The website provides data from the Wisconsin Cancer Reporting System, which is maintained by the Office of Health Informatics, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

How does WI EPHT measure cancer?

The WI EPHT website includes the following measures:

  • counts for each cancer type
  • age adjusted rate for each cancer type

What are some considerations for interpreting the data?

While significant effort is made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, there are limitations that are listed below:

  • Reporting may be less complete from rural versus urban areas of the state.
  • Reporting may be less complete for cases where diagnosis and/or treatment occurs in a different state.
  • Reporting completeness is different depending on the type of cancer.

There are many factors that can contribute to a disease and should be considered when interpreting the data. Some of these include:

  • Demographics, e.g., race, gender, age
  • Socioeconomic Status, e.g., income level, education
  • Geographic, e.g., urban vs. rural
  • Changes in the medical field, e.g., diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements
  • Individual behavior, e.g., diet, smoking