Can Brain Tumors Run in the Family

It’s possible but rare for brain tumors to run in the family. The risk factors of having a brain t***r are either environmental or genetic. Environmental factors when exposed to certain chemicals and ionizing radiation at home or work. Other studies shown history of allergies as an adult, eating or not eating certain foods, physical activity level, and/or other lifestyle choices such as tobacco and/or a*****l use. Older individuals are more likely to develop a brain t***r.

It can also be genetic or based on the characteristics we inherit from our parents. However, only about 5 to 10 percent of all c****r is hereditary; most genetic factors are not inherited at birth but build up over time as we age.

Shaan M. Raza, M.D., an assistant professor of neurosurgery and head and neck surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson C****r Center, tells SELF that a “significant majority” of brain tumors aren’t hereditary. Dr. Raza says , “When there is a family link, it means that a mutation in a gene may be passed through generations, which raises a person’s risk of having a t***r develop. Meaning, it’s possible to have brain tumors run in your family, but you never develop one.”

Consider Maria Menounos and her mom Litsa who both had brain tumors at the same time. Maria Menounos, 39-year-old TV and Sirius XM radio host, an American actress, journalist, television host, and occasional professional wrestler of Greek descent. She is known in the United States for her appearances as a TV correspondent for TodayAccess HollywoodExtra, and abroad for co-hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens, Greece.

Maria shared creepy stuff in an interview with people that she had a surgery to remove a golf ball-sized brain t***r last month. At the same time that her mom Litsa is battling stage 4-brain c****r.

According to Maria, she first noticed something was off in February after she had been getting headaches and feeling lightheaded on set. “My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter,” she said.

An MRI revealed that Maria had a meningioma, a usually benign, meaning, non-cancerous, t***r that forms in the meningeal tissue of the brain, and it was pushing on her facial nerves.

First I wanna say thank you all for the well wishes, prayers and support. It's been a crazy time here in our home. I want you all to know that I'm ok! Seriously I'm recovering well and should be as good as new very very soon! Luckily I don't need any further treatments but I can't say the same about my mom. So please keep her in your prayers. I also want to thank @people for allowing me to share my story. @juliejordanc & @mrjesscagle THANK YOU' Next-I need to thank everyone at @cedarssinai everyone there has been amazing. Most people want to rush out of the hospital to get home I kept saying I've never been treated kinder. I cried like a baby saying goodbye to the amazing nurses who took such good care of me. God bless nurses! I of course need to thank dr black and dr Chu for performing an amazing surgery and giving me the best bday gift ever-my health. And lastly, god has blessed me in so many ways but this too was a blessing. I got to hear what I have meant to my friends and family-it's been quite moving for me. I want thank all of my incredible friends, family and even strangers who have shown me and my family such kindness. @alyssawallerce Thank you for being with me every step of the way. I couldn't have done it without you. @iamjoegear You too! And to @undergaro the best nurse in the never left the hospital and slept by my side there. you are my everything and I'm so thankful to you. You and dad have really been incredible to mom and me. You both have inspired me. I've never been more excited about life. I see so much so clearly. Will share more with all of you soon! Xo

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Photo from Maria Menounos’ Instagram Account

“I didn’t cry. I actually laughed,” she said. “It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain t***r—and now I have one too?”

Maria went to her mother’s neurosurgeon and eventually underwent a seven-hour surgery in which her doctor was able to remove 99.9 percent of the t***r, which was benign.

“He said there’s a six to seven percent chance that we’ll see it come back,” she says. “But I’ll take those odds any day.” Maria  was in the hospital for six days and is now spending time with her mother, whose latest MRI shows that her brain c****r is stable. She says she still struggles with balance and her face is numb, but she’s getting back to normal.

On Monday, Maria shared a smiling selfie with her mom on Instagram, thanking fans for the well wishes. “I want you all to know that I’m OK! “ she captioned the photo. “Seriously I’m recovering well and should be as good as new very, very soon! Luckily I don’t need any further treatments but I can’t say the same about my mom. So please keep her in your prayers.”

She also thanked her doctor, internal medicine physician Ryan Aronin, M.D., on Twitter for taking her symptoms seriously.

“Thank you for not making me feel like I was crazy to think I had a brain t***r,” she wrote.

Maria had a different type of brain t***r from her mother. Peter Forsyth, M.D., chair of the Department of Neuro-Oncology at Moffitt C****r Center, tells SELF that he’s doubtful there is a genetic link in this case, especially since the tumors arise from different forms of tissue. “Since both kinds of tumors have little to nothing in common, it is very, very unlikely that they run in families,” he says, calling it an “unusual coincidence.”

Daniel Prevedello, M.D., a neurosurgeon with The Ohio State University Comprehensive C****r Center – Arthur G. James C****r Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, agrees. “The association of a grade 4 brain t***r with another family member with a benign meningioma is a coincidence,” he says.

Most doctors wouldn’t recommend an MRI to anyone with a family member who has a brain t***r—unless they’re experiencing symptoms.

If someone in your family has a brain t***r, don’t to assume that you’re going to develop one, too. Santosh Kesari, M.D., Ph.D., neuro-oncologist and Chair of the Department of Translational Neuro-Oncology and Neurotherapeutics at the John Wayne C****r Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells SELF that this isn’t very common. However, he says, if there are two or more members of your family who have had brain tumors, he recommends visiting a genetic counselor to be tested.

As for symptoms, Dr. Forsyth says they can be pretty non-specific. A person’s symptoms may vary depending on where the t***r is located. However, it changes in personality and memory, speech issues. In addition  difficulty understanding language and imbalance can be signs of a brain t***r, he says.

Headaches can also be a sign of a brain t***r.  But Dr. Kesari stresses that you shouldn’t assume a headache means you have a brain t***r, given how common they are. That said, there are a few headache symptoms that are worth checking out; this includes: headaches that get progressively worse over time, are different than usual, wake you up in the middle of the night, are worse in the morning, or are aggravated by coughing or straining.

If you suspect that you have a brain t***r, Prevedello recommends talking to your primary care physician. She or he may recommend an MRI or a head CT scan to see what’s going on.

Concerns about heredity and brain tumors are common. If you are worried about your family history, begin by sharing it with your family doctor and ask medical advice. Although routine screening for brain tumors is not currently available unusual symptoms such as headaches or short-term memory loss can be investigated with your family history in mind.

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