If you're like me, the news of Sheryl Crow's brain tumor sent off all sorts of little warning bells:
Uh-oh. I'm constantly forgetting things! Just this morning I couldn't find my keys! What if I have a brain tumor, too?
Because let's face it -- even though the 50-year-old singer's tumor is benign and she's "not worried" about it, the concept is still pretty scary. How can a brain tumor be completely harmless? What else can it affect besides memory?
How soon can I get an MRI?!
Relax, relax! Here's what you need to know about benign brain tumors (not that you have one, because you probably don't!).
1. How is a benign brain tumor different from a cancerous brain tumor?
Basically, a benign brain tumor doesn't metastisize, or grow, at the same rate as a cancerous tumor. And when a benign brain tumor is removed, it rarely reoccurs. However, "benign" brain tumors can be life-threatening because they can compress brain tissue and important nerves and ventricles and such.
2. Why do people get benign brain tumors?
Nobody really knows. Risk factors are thought to include family history and exposure to radiation or certain chemicals such as formaldehyde.
3. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary greatly depending on where in the brain the tumor is found, but can include:
Problems with hearing, vision, or balance
Changes in memory, speech, or concentration
Facial paralysis (Bell's Palsy)
Numbness in extremities
Muscle spasms or seizures
Before you book that MRI, remember: Lots of other diseases, not to mention everyday hazards like stress and undercooked chicken, can cause some of the above symptoms.
So if you're squinting at the screen right now, odds are you probably just need glasses.
Do you have any firsthand experience with benign brain tumors?
Image via Eric Lewis/Flickr