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All about brain tumor primary brain tumors secondary brain tumors types of brain tumors causes of brain tumor risk factors for brain tumors complications of brain tumor symptoms of brain tumors diagnosing brain tumor brain tumor treatment

What is brain tumor?

Brain tumors are abnormal growths made up of cells whose growth and division are no longer under the control of the body. They can occur in the cerebrum (the largest portion of the brain responsible for planning movement, interpreting sensation, and controlling memory, learning, "thinking", and emotions), the cerebellum (controls balance and equilibrium), or the

brainstem (responsible for controlling heart rate, breathing, and consciousness).

A benign tumor does not contain cancer cells and usually, once removed, does not recur. Most benign brain tumors have clear borders, meaning they do not invade surrounding tissue. These tumors can, however, cause symptoms similar to cancerous tumors because of their size and location in the brain.

Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. Malignant brain tumors are usually fast growing and invade surrounding tissue. Malignant brain tumors very rarely spread to other areas of the body, but may recur after treatment. Sometimes, brain tumors that are not cancer are called malignant because of their size and location, and the damage they can do to vital functions of the brain.

Metastatic brain tumors are tumors that begin to grow in another part of the body, then spread to the brain through the bloodstream. Common types of cancer that can travel to the brain include lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma (a type of skin cancer), and colon cancer. All of these cancers are considered malignant once they have spread to the brain.

Brain tumors may be primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors originate in the cells within or next to the brain. These tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous. Secondary brain tumors are metastases originating in another part of the body and thus are always cancerous.

Noncancerous tumors are named for the specific cells or tissues in which they originate. For example, hemangioblastomas originate in blood vessels ("hema" refers to blood vessels, and hemangioblasts are the cells that develop into blood vessel tissue). Some noncancerous tumors that originate in embryonic cells may be present at birth.

Most commonly, cancerous brain tumors are metastases from cancer that started in another part of the body. Metastases may grow in a single part of the brain or in several different parts. Many types of cancer - including breast cancer, lung cancer, cancer in the digestive tract, malignant melanoma, leukemia, and lymphoma - can spread to the brain. Lymphomas of the brain are common among people who have AIDS and, for unknown reasons, are becoming more common among people who have normal immune systems. The most common type of primary cancerous brain tumor is a glioma.

There are several types of primary brain cancers, each arising from a specific type of cell in the brain. Common primary brain cancers include astrocytomas (and their sub-types such as glioblastoma multiforme), oligodendogliomas, ependymomas, medulloblastomas, and CNS lymphomas. Brain cancers also vary in terms of their aggressiveness - i.e., how fast they grow and how readily they invade surrounding tissues. The most aggressive forms of brain cancer are called high grade, lesser degrees of aggressiveness are referred to as low grade. Tumor grade is determined by examining a sample of the tumor under the microscope.

More information on brain tumor

What is brain tumor? - Brain tumors are abnormal growths made up of cells whose growth and division are no longer under the control of the body.
What are primary brain tumors? - A primary malignant brain tumor is one that originates in the brain itself. Primary brain tumors are named due to the cell types.
What are secondary brain tumors? - A secondary (metastatic) brain tumor occurs when cancer cells spread to the brain from a primary cancer in another part of the body.
What types of brain tumors are there? - About half of all primary brain tumors are known collectively as gliomas. Some brain tumors are categorized by their location in the brain.
What causes brain tumors? - The majority of brain tumors have abnormalities of genes involved in cell cycle control, causing uncontrolled cell growth.
What're the risk factors for brain tumors? - Risk factors for brain tumors include age, environmental or occupational risk factors, diseases associated with brain tumors.
What're the complications of brain tumors? - Brain tumors may lead to an emergency complication known as hydrocephalus. A brain tumor can cause temporary or permanent brain damage.
What're the symptoms of brain tumors? - Symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on the size and location of tumor. Many symptoms are related to an increase in pressure in or around the brain.
How is brain tumor diagnosed? - Brain tumor is diagnosed through a combination of symptoms and evaluation of neurological functions.
What's the treatment for brain tumors? - The approach for treating brain tumors is to reduce the tumor as much as possible using surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or investigative procedures.
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005