Brain Tumor

Brain tumor facts*

*Brain tumor facts Medically Edited by:

  • Primary brain tumors can be either malignant (contain cancer cells) or benign (do not contain cancer cells).  A primary brain tumor is a tumor which begins in the brain. If a cancerous tumor which starts elsewhere in the body sends cells which end up growing in the brain, such tumors are then called secondary or metastatic brain tumors. This discussion is focused on primary brain tumors.
  • Brain tumors can occur at any age.
  • The exact cause of brain tumors is not clear.
  • Physicians group brain tumors by grade (the way the cells look under a microscope). The higher the grade number, the more abnormal the cells appear and the more aggressively the tumor usually behaves.
  • Brain tumors are classified as grade I, grade II, or grade III, or grade IV
  • The most common type of primary brain tumors among adults are astrocytoma, meningioma, and oligodendroglioma.
  • The most common type of primary brain tumors in children are medulloblastoma, grade I or II astrocytoma, (or glioma) ependymoma, and brain stem glioma.
  • Studies have found risk factors for brain tumors to include ionizing radiation from high dose X-rays (for example, radiation therapy where the machine is aimed at the head), and family history.
  • The symptoms of brain tumors depend on their size, type, and location.
  • The most common symptoms of brain tumors include headaches; numbness or tingling in the arms or legs; seizures, memory problems; mood and personality changes; balance and walking problems; nausea and vomiting; changes in speech, vision, or hearing.
  • Brain tumors are diagnosed by the doctor based on the results of a medical history and physical examination and results of a variety of specialized tests of the brain and nervous system.
  • Treatment of a brain tumor depends on the type, location, and size of the tumor, as well as the age and health of the patient.
  • Options for brain tumor treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy (or a combination of treatments).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2014

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Brain Tumor - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of brain tumor can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
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Brain Tumor Symptoms

Medical Author: Charles Davis, MD, PhD
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Benign brain tumors are usually defined as a group of similar cells that do not follow normal cell division and growth patterns and develop into a mass of cells that microscopically do not have the characteristic appearance of a cancer. Most benign brain tumors are found by CT or MRI brain scans. These tumors usually grow slowly, do not invade surrounding tissues or spread to other organs, and often have a border or edge that can be seen on CT scans. These tumors rarely develop into metastatic (cancerous or spreading) tumors. Most benign brain tumors can be removed; the benign tumors usually do not reoccur after removal. The exact causes of benign brain tumors are not known, but investigators have suggested that family history, radiation exposure, or exposure to chemicals (for example, vinyl chloride, formaldehyde) may be risk factors.


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