A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in your brain.1 About 71% of brain tumors are benign (noncancerous) and about 29% are malignant (cancerous).2 Benign brain tumors are typically slow-growing and have clean, smooth borders. In contrast, malignant brain tumors look irregular, and grow quickly and aggressively, invading nearby tissue.
The brain’s anatomy is vast and complex, and tumors can develop in any part of the brain itself, or the skull. Primary brain tumors develop in the brain, whereas secondary (metastatic) brain tumors develop elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. In adults, primary brain tumors are less common than secondary ones.
Brain tumors affect about 30 of every 100,000 adults.3 Brain structures and organs are packed tightly together, so even benign tumors can be life-threatening if they compress parts of the brain or impact vital functions.
There are over 120 types of known brain tumors. Here are some common examples of both benign and malignant brain tumors.
Typically benign tumors:
Typically malignant tumors:
Brain tumor signs and symptoms vary widely depending on the tumor’s location, size, growth rate, and level of malignancy. A tumor pressing on the optic nerve, for example, will naturally cause different side effects than a tumor in the part of the brain that governs personality. Many of these symptoms can (and often do) have other explanations or causes.
Commonly reported brain tumor symptoms include:
Brain tumor treatment is ultimately determined by a number of factors, including the tumor's malignancy, pathology, symptomatology, aggressiveness, and geography (some tumors cannot be fully removed surgically without damaging nearby structures).
Some benign tumors will never grow, change, or cause any symptoms. Doctors will often utilize a watch-and-wait approach in those situations. Benign tumors that do grow, change, cause symptoms, or detrimentally impact neighboring brain structures will sometimes require surgical removal.
Many malignant tumors are treated with surgical removal as a first line of defense. Radiation, chemotherapy, and precision medicine can augment surgical removal and improve outcomes and survival rates.
Supportive prescription medicine care can mitigate side effects from treatments like chemotherapy. Palliative care like yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and selective diets may also be supportive in some cases.
Brain tumors are usually diagnosed using a three-prong approach:
If your doctor has recommended medical imaging for brain tumor detection or treatment, head to scan.com’s easy-to-use scan search tool to find a scan location near you.
mayoclinic.org: Brain tumor - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
braintumor.org: Quick Brain Tumor Facts
hopkinsmedicine.org: Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer | Johns Hopkins Medicine
clevelandclinic.org: Brain Cancer & Brain Tumor: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
cancer.org: Types of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Adults
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