The relationship between brain tumors and immune system activation has been a mystery. Since the 1980s, doctors have suspected that the immune system plays an important role in both cancer and immune disorders such as HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and even psychiatric illnesses like depression and anxiety. New studies are suggesting that tumors may be a cause of immune dysfunction. Researchers believe the role of the immune system in cancer is likely related to abnormal proliferation of brain cells known as glioma, which is caused by the invasion of glioma cells into the brain. These glioma cells act like cancer cells, but they have the ability to become the target of the immune system, which may then attack the brain.
How brain tumors affect the immune system is still being studied. For now, we do know glioma cells behave more like cancer cells than normal brain cells. They invade the brain via a blood clot or even a tumor that has grown there. Once they’ve made their way into the brain, the glioma cells begin to secrete toxins. This may trigger an immune response in the brain which will then attack brain cells, damaging them and possibly killing them.
How brain tumors turn immune and cancer-growing hostages remains a mystery. Scientists can do lab tests and look at immune function, but until they have a better idea of the role the immune system plays in brain function, they will continue to wonder what effect it may have. Even if the immune system seems to help brain tumors by killing cancer cells, researchers still don’t know why. So far, the results of lab tests seem to indicate that glioma tumors can be a gliomatogenous tumor – those that develop in the womb – and not those that grow elsewhere in the body.
How brain tumors make you vulnerable to the attack of an auto-immune disease also remains a mystery. When a tumor is present, the immune system begins to attack it, trying to kill off its invading cells. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. If the brain tumor is an especially dangerous type, it can even cause death. This is one reason that doctors struggle to find a cure for brain cancer.
Since the brain is so vital, your chances of survival will be much greater if you can eliminate the threat posed by the tumor. Unfortunately, once a brain tumor has developed, it’s very difficult to remove it surgically. The usual methods involve removing the affected cells surgically, then monitoring the brain to see how it responds. If it begins to swell and bleed, for example, a doctor might have to open it up and remove a blood clot to stop the brain from bleeding to death.
How brain tumors turn into cancer-growing hostages is a mystery that scientists are not yet able to completely explain. As you can see, it’s a complex disease with a complicated answer. We do know that the immune system turns against the brain when it is under attack, and that this turns into a problem. Until we can unlock the code of the brain tumor, brain cancer may remain a devastating condition.