Can Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Adults Be Prevented?

The risk of many cancers in adults can be reduced with certain lifestyle changes (such as staying at a healthy weight or quitting smoking). But other than radiation exposure, there are no known lifestyle-related or environmental causes of brain and spinal cord tumors, so at this time there is no known way to protect against most of these tumors.

For most people with other types of cancer in or near the head, radiation therapy may be given if doctors feel the benefits outweigh the small risk of developing a brain tumor years later. Still, when it is needed, doctors try to limit the dose of radiation as much as possible.

Imaging tests such as x-rays or CT scans use much lower levels of radiation than those used for treatment. If there is any increase in risk from these tests, it is likely to be very small, but to be safe, most doctors recommend that people (especially pregnant women and children) not get these tests unless they are absolutely needed.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 5, 2014 Last Revised: January 21, 2016

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