Also known as:
Adult brain tumors, Brain metastases, Metastatic brain tumors, Brain cancer, Primary brain tumors, Central nervous system tumors
Your body is constantly growing new cells to replace older ones. A tumor occurs when cells begin to grow abnormally and without control. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or not non-cancerous (benign). A benign tumor will stay where it is and tends to grow slowly. A malignant tumor can grow into nearby tissues and tends to grow faster. Most types of malignant tumors can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, although tumors that start in the brain rarely metastasize.
A primary brain tumor is one that first appears in the brain. This may be benign or malignant. A metastatic (secondary) brain tumor results from a cancer that starts elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the brain. Either type of brain tumor can damage brain cells directly. Or the tumor can harm brain cells when it presses on brain tissue as it grows. Because of this, any type of brain tumor can be dangerous, as it can grow large enough to affect other sensitive parts of the brain.
Healthcare providers don’t know what causes primary brain tumors.
The most common brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas. Most gliomas are cancerous, or malignant. Most meningiomas are benign. But meningiomas still may cause severe complications, depending on how big they are and where they are in the brain.
The first tests used to diagnose a brain tumor often include a CT scan and/or an MRI scan of the brain. Sometimes a sample of tumor tissue (biopsy) is needed. The sample is taken during surgery.
Most brain tumors should be treated right away. Surgery is needed to treat most primary brain tumors. Some tumors respond to radiation therapy. Your healthcare provider may recommend radiation therapy in addition to, or instead of, surgery. You may also need chemotherapy or other types of medicines.
A brain tumor may cause seizures. If this happens, your healthcare provider can give you medicine to help prevent another seizure.
You can go back to your normal activities as you feel up to it. But if you had a seizure or fainted, you should not drive, take baths alone, or swim until your healthcare provider says it’s safe for you to do so. Take any seizure medicine as directed to help prevent another episode.
If you have headache or nausea, use the medicines provided.
Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
New seizures or seizures that keep happening
You feel less alert or it’s difficult to wake you up
New changes to your vision, speech, or hearing
Weakness on one side of your body or loss of coordination and balance
Difficulty thinking, speaking, or getting your words out