Brain Cancer Overview

Brain and spinal cord (also known as the central nervous system, or CNS) tumors are masses of abnormal cells in the brain or spinal cord that have grown out of control. These tumors can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Unlike cancers that start in other parts of the body, tumors which start in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to distant organs. They can, however, travel short distances within the brain, causing damage to healthy tissue. Therefore, even benign tumors often need to be removed or destroyed.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumors

Signs and symptoms of brain cancer can be either general or specific and depend on:

  • Where the tumor forms in the brain or spinal cord
  • The size of the tumor
  • What the affected part of the brain controls

Detection and Diagnosis of Brain Cancer

Imaging tests are the primary method for detecting and diagnosing a brain tumor. However, there are other tests your doctor may perform to determine if a brain tumor is present. If imaging tests show there may be a brain tumor, the next step would be to perform a biopsy.

Types and Grades of Brain Tumors

Unlike other cancers, brain cancer is assigned a “grade” rather than a stage, based on how the cells look under the microscope.

The two most common types og brain tumors are meningiomas and gliomas.

Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

Brain tumor treatment options will depend on several factors such as the size, type, grade and placement of the tumor. 

The most common brain cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Active Surveillance

Additional Cancer Resources From Our Blog

Visit the National Cancer Institute where this information and more can be found about Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer, or ask your Compass Oncology cancer care team questions about your individual situation.