AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Five Years Before Brain Cancer Diagnosis, Changes Detectable in Blood

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Immune-system activity weakens before symptoms arise

Changes in immune activity appear to signal a growing brain tumor five years before symptoms arise, new research has found. Interactions among proteins that relay information from one immune cell to another are weakened in the blood of brain cancer patients within five years before the cancer is diagnosed, said lead researcher Judith Schwartzbaum of The Ohio State University. That information could one day lead to earlier diagnosis of brain cancer, said Schwartzbaum, an associate professor of epidemiology and member of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. The study focused on gliomas, which make up about 80 percent of brain cancer diagnoses. Average survival time for the most common type of glioma is 14 months. Symptoms vary and include headaches, memory loss, personality changes, blurred vision and difficulty speaking. On average, the cancer is diagnosed three months after the onset of symptoms and when tumors are typically advanced.

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