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Brain Cancer

Tumors that develop within the brain have the potential to disrupt important tasks, impacting everything from your ability to think, remember details, talk and walk, to your breathing and heart function.

When people think of brain tumors, they often think of cancer. However, not every tumor that develops within the brain is cancerous. Benign, or noncancerous, tumors often grow slowly over time, and if treatment is necessary, are usually treated with surgery.

Cancerous, or malignant, tumors are different. These aggressive tumors grow quickly, may spread to other areas of the body and present a serious threat to your health. Treating these cancers usually requires a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Brain cancer can be a frightening diagnosis. At UI Health, you'll receive the latest treatments and the highest level of support, compassion, and understanding from our team of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neuroradiologists, and other brain cancer specialists.

TYPES OF BRAIN CANCERS

Two types of malignant tumors affect the brain.

  • Primary tumors originate within the brain.
  • Metastatic tumors originate outside of the brain and spread to the brain over time. Cancers that commonly metastasize to the brain include melanoma and lung and breast cancers.

Primary brain cancers most likely to affect adult patients include:

  • Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas: These tumors develop within glial cells called oligodendrocytes and usually spread to other brain tissues. Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas are the most aggressive form of oligodendroglioma.
  • Glioblastomas: Glioblastomas are the most common type of brain malignancy in adults. These fast-growing cancers usually form within the cerebral hemisphere.
  • Grade III meningiomas: These are fast-growing meningiomas that may spread beyond the brain and spinal cord and may recur after treatment.

Primary brain cancers that more commonly affect pediatric patients include:

  • Brain stem gliomas: The tumors grow within the brain stem and can be benign or cancerous. A high-grade, aggressive form of brain stem glioma is known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
  • Medulloblastomas: The most common type of brain cancer affecting children, medulloblastomas develop in the cerebellum and are the most treatable form of primitive neuroectodermal tumor. They typically develop before a child’s 10th birthday.
  • Ependymomas: These tumors form from the cells that create the cerebrospinal fluid and occur within the ventricles and passageways of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumors: These arise from neuroectodermal cells and affect different parts of the brain and spinal cord. Neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, and pineoblastoma are forms of primitive neuroectodermal tumors.