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Types of Brain cancer

Brain cancer: Types list

The list of types of Brain cancer mentioned in various sources includes:

  • Primary Brain Tumors - caused by cancer of brain cells.
  • Metastatic Brain Cancer - cancer of another part of the body has spread to the brain.
  • Benign Brain Tumor
  • Primary CNS Lymphoma
  • Brain Sarcoma
  • Childhood Brain Cancers
  • Spinal Cord Tumor
  • Subtypes by type of cell affected:
    • Gliomas - begin in the glial supportive tissue
    • Medulloblastoma - also called "primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET)"
    • Meningioma
    • Schwannomas (Brain) - begin in Schwann cells; acoustic neuromas are of this type.
    • Craniopharyngiomas - around the pituitary gland
    • Germ cell tumors (Brain)
    • Germinoma (Brain)
    • Pineal region tumors - around the pineal gland.
      • Pineocytoma
      • Pineoblastoma
    • Neuroblastoma (Brain)
    • Neurocytoma (Brain)
    • Ganglioneuroma (Brain)
    • Oligodendroglioma
  • Grade of the cancer - the level of "differentiation" of the cells, which affects how quickly they grow.
    • Malignant brain tumors

Types discussion:

What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI (Excerpt)

Tumors are benign or malignant .

  • Benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells. Usually these tumors can be removed, and they are not likely to recur . Benign brain tumors have clear borders. Although they do not invade nearby tissue, they can press on sensitive areas of the brain and cause symptoms.

  • Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. They interfere with vital functions and are life threatening. Malignant brain tumors are likely to grow rapidly and crowd or invade the tissue around them. Like a plant, these tumors may put out "roots" that grow into healthy brain tissue. If a malignant tumor remains compact and does not have roots, it is said to be encapsulated . When an otherwise benign tumor is located in a vital area of the brain and interferes with vital functions, it may be considered malignant (even though it contains no cancer cells).

Doctors refer to some brain tumors by grade -- from low grade (grade I) to high grade (grade IV). The grade of a tumor refers to the way the cells look under a microscope. Cells from higher grade tumors are more abnormal looking and generally grow faster than cells from lower grade tumors; higher grade tumors are more malignant than lower grade tumors. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI)

What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI (Excerpt)

Tumors that begin in brain tissue are known as primary brain tumors. (Secondary tumors that develop when cancer spreads to the brain are discussed in the Secondary Brain Tumors section.) Primary brain tumors are classified by the type of tissue in which they begin. The most common brain tumors are gliomas , which begin in the glial (supportive) tissue. There are several types of gliomas:

  • Astrocytomas arise from small, star-shaped cells called astrocytes. They may grow anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. In adults, astrocytomas most often arise in the cerebrum. In children, they occur in the brain stem, the cerebrum, and the cerebellum. A grade III astrocytoma is sometimes called anaplastic astrocytoma. A grade IV astrocytoma is usually called glioblastoma multiforme .

  • Brain stem gliomas occur in the lowest, stemlike part of the brain. The brain stem controls many vital functions. Tumors in this area generally cannot be removed. Most brain stem gliomas are high-grade astrocytomas.

  • Ependymomas usually develop in the lining of the ventricles. They may also occur in the spinal cord. Although these tumors can develop at any age, they are most common in childhood and adolescence.

  • Oligodendrogliomas arise in the cells that produce myelin , the fatty covering that protects nerves. These tumors usually arise in the cerebrum. They grow slowly and usually do not spread into surrounding brain tissue. Oligodendrogliomas are rare. They occur most often in middle-aged adults but have been found in people of all ages.

There are other types of brain tumors that do not begin in glial tissue. Some of the most common are described below:

  • Medulloblastomas were once thought to develop from glial cells. However, recent research suggests that these tumors develop from primitive (developing) nerve cells that normally do not remain in the body after birth. For this reason, medulloblastomas are sometimes called primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET). Most medulloblastomas arise in the cerebellum; however, they may occur in other areas as well. These tumors occur most often in children and are more common in boys than in girls.

  • Meningiomas grow from the meninges. They are usually benign. Because these tumors grow very slowly, the brain may be able to adjust to their presence; meningiomas often grow quite large before they cause symptoms. They occur most often in women between 30 and 50 years of age.

  • Schwannomas are benign tumors that begin in Schwann cells, which produce the myelin that protects the acoustic nerve -- the nerve of hearing. Acoustic neuromas are a type of schwannoma. They occur mainly in adults. These tumors affect women twice as often as men.

  • Craniopharyngiomas develop in the region of the pituitary gland near the hypothalamus . They are usually benign; however, they are sometimes considered malignant because they can press on or damage the hypothalamus and affect vital functions. These tumors occur most often in children and adolescents.

  • Germ cell tumors arise from primitive (developing) sex cells, or germ cells. The most frequent type of germ cell tumor in the brain is the germinoma .

  • Pineal region tumors occur in or around the pineal gland , a tiny organ near the center of the brain. The tumor can be slow growing pineocytoma ) or fast growing (pineoblastoma ). The pineal region is very difficult to reach, and these tumors often cannot be removed.

(Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI)

What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI (Excerpt)

Cancer that begins in other parts of the body may spread to the brain and cause secondary tumors. These tumors are not the same as primary brain tumors. Cancer that spreads to the brain is the same disease and has the same name as the original (primary) cancer. For example, if lung cancer spreads to the brain, the disease is called metastatic lung cancer because the cells in the secondary tumor resemble abnormal lung cells, not abnormal brain cells. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Brain Tumors: NCI)

Brain cancer: Rare Types

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Brain cancer: Related Disease Topics

More general medical disease topics related to Brain cancer include:

Research More About Brain cancer


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