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What is a brain tumor?

A brain tumor is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in your brain. Your skull, which encloses your brain, is very rigid. Any growth inside such a restricted space can cause problems. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). When benign or malignant tumors grow, they can cause the pressure inside your skull to increase. This can cause brain damage, and it can be life-threatening.

Brain tumors are categorized as primary or secondary. A primary brain tumor originates in your brain. Many primary brain tumors are benign. A secondary brain tumor, also known as a metastatic brain tumor, occurs when cancer cells spread to your brain from another organ, such as your lung or breast.

Types of brain tumors
Primary brain tumors

Primary brain tumors originate in your brain. They can develop from your:

  • brain cells
  • the membranes that surround your brain, which are called meninges
  • nerve cells
  • glands

Primary tumors can be benign or cancerous. In adults, the most common types of brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas.

Gliomas

Gliomas are tumors that develop from glial cells. These cells normally:

  • support the structure of your central nervous system
  • provide nutrition to your central nervous system
  • clean cellular waste
  • break down dead neurons
  • Gliomas can develop from different types of glial cells.

The types of tumors that begin in glial cells are:

  • astrocytic tumors such as astrocytomas, which originate in the cerebrum
  • oligodendroglialtumors, which are often found in the frontal temporal lobes
  • glioblastomas, which originate in the supportive brain tissue and are the most aggressive typeOther primary brain tumors
Other primary brain tumors include:
  1. pituitary tumors, which are usually benign
  2. pineal gland tumors, which can be benign or malignan
  3. tependymomas, which are usually benign
  4. raniopharyngiomas, which occur mostly in children and are benign but can have clinical symptoms like changes in vision and premature puberty
  5. primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, which are malignant
  6. primary germ cell tumors of the brain, which can be benign or malignant
  7. meningiomas, which originate in the meninges
  8. schwannomas, which originate in cells that produce the protective cover of your nerves (myelin sheath) called Schwann cells

Most meningiomas and schwannomas occur in people between the ages of 40 and 70. Meningiomas are more common in women than men. Schwannomas occur equally in both men and women. These tumors are usually benign, but they can cause complications because of their size and location. Cancerous meningiomas and schwannomas are rare but can be very aggressive.

Examination

he physical exam includes a very detailed neurological examination. Your doctor will conduct a test to see if your cranial nerves are intact. These are the nerves that originate in your brain.

  • the type of tumor
  • the size of the tumor
  • the location of the tumor
  • Your general health

The most common treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy parts of the brain. While the location of some tumors allows for easy and safe removal, other tumors may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumor can be removed. Even partial removal of brain cancer can be beneficial.

What is a brain tumor?

A brain tumor is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in your brain. Your skull, which encloses your brain, is very rigid. Any growth inside such a restricted space can cause problems. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). When benign or malignant tumors grow, they can cause the pressure inside your skull to increase. This can cause brain damage, and it can be life-threatening.

Brain tumors are categorized as primary or secondary. A primary brain tumor originates in your brain. Many primary brain tumors are benign. A secondary brain tumor, also known as a metastatic brain tumor, occurs when cancer cells spread to your brain from another organ, such as your lung or breast.

Types of brain tumors
Primary brain tumors

Primary brain tumors originate in your brain. They can develop from your:

  • brain cells
  • the membranes that surround your brain, which are called meninges
  • nerve cells
  • glands

Primary tumors can be benign or cancerous. In adults, the most common types of brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas.

Gliomas

Gliomas are tumors that develop from glial cells. These cells normally:

  • support the structure of your central nervous system
  • provide nutrition to your central nervous system
  • clean cellular waste
  • break down dead neurons
  • Gliomas can develop from different types of glial cells.

The types of tumors that begin in glial cells are:

  • astrocytic tumors such as astrocytomas, which originate in the cerebrum
  • oligodendroglialtumors, which are often found in the frontal temporal lobes
  • glioblastomas, which originate in the supportive brain tissue and are the most aggressive typeOther primary brain tumors
Other primary brain tumors include:
  1. pituitary tumors, which are usually benign
  2. pineal gland tumors, which can be benign or malignan
  3. tependymomas, which are usually benign
  4. raniopharyngiomas, which occur mostly in children and are benign but can have clinical symptoms like changes in vision and premature puberty
  5. primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, which are malignant
  6. primary germ cell tumors of the brain, which can be benign or malignant
  7. meningiomas, which originate in the meninges
  8. schwannomas, which originate in cells that produce the protective cover of your nerves (myelin sheath) called Schwann cells

Most meningiomas and schwannomas occur in people between the ages of 40 and 70. Meningiomas are more common in women than men. Schwannomas occur equally in both men and women. These tumors are usually benign, but they can cause complications because of their size and location. Cancerous meningiomas and schwannomas are rare but can be very aggressive.

Examination

he physical exam includes a very detailed neurological examination. Your doctor will conduct a test to see if your cranial nerves are intact. These are the nerves that originate in your brain.

  • the type of tumor
  • the size of the tumor
  • the location of the tumor
  • Your general health

The most common treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy parts of the brain. While the location of some tumors allows for easy and safe removal, other tumors may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumor can be removed. Even partial removal of brain cancer can be beneficial.

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