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Types of Brain Tumors

Types of Tumors
The following section provides a brief summary of several of the most common types of brain tumors, and highlights the most common treatments.

Benign Brain Tumors

Meningiomas
A meningioma is a tumor that develops from the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It is the most common benign brain tumor in adults. A few meningiomas are malignant. The cause of meningiomas is unknown; however, some meningiomas are associated with specific genetic disorders, such as neurofibromatosis. Symptoms include seizure, headaches and loss of brain function (sensory problems, loss of coordination, etc.). Meningiomas usually grow slowly and may be treated at first with observation over time. For large meningiomas, surgery is usually the preferred treatment.

Acoustic neuromas
Acoustic neuromas (a.k.a. vestibular schwannomas) are tumors arising from a cranial nerve. The tumor is usually benign and slow growing. The most common symptoms are hearing loss, ringing in the ears, vertigo (dizziness), and headaches. Options for treatment include observation, radiosurgery, and surgical resection. The ideal treatment in most cases is complete microsurgical tumor resection.

Pituitary tumors
Pituitary tumors are tumors of the pituitary gland, which produces hormones to regulate the other glands in the body. These tumors may or may not secrete hormones. Often symptoms develop based on the type of hormone secreted. Some pituitary tumors are treated with medication alone, other with surgery, some with radiation, and some with a combination of all three treatments. Pituitary tumors represent approximately 10-15% of all brain tumors. They are most common in the third and fourth decade of life, and males and females are equally affected.

Colloid cysts
Colloid cysts are benign tumors that only occur in the third ventricle, an area involved with cerebrospinal fluid flow. Tumors in this area can be life threatening by blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, causing a condition called hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and even comas, which can lead to death. If the tumor is large enough, most neurosurgeons will treat the condition with surgical removal. Sometimes a ventricular shunt (a tube from the ventricles) is needed, which diverts and drains the cerebrospinal fluid and relieves pressure. Arachnoid cysts

An arachnoid cyst is a sac of cerebrospinal fluid that develops in the brain. Some of these cysts may develop in infancy, but often they are undiagnosed until a head injury occurs. Arachnoid cysts may cause no symptoms for a long time until they are large enough to put pressure on the brain or cause a deformity. Sometimes surgery is needed to create space around the cyst. Other cysts can be treated with a shunt.

Craniopharyngiomas
Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors located above and behind the pituitary gland. These tumors grow slowly, but can cause vision problems or pituitary dysfunction. There is debate on how these tumors should be treated. Many neurosurgeons advocate surgical removal followed by radiation. In some cases, draining the cyst fluid may control the symptoms and halt growth.

Choroid plexus papillomas
Choroid plexus papillomas are benign tumors that occur in the brain’s ventricular system from the cells that make spinal fluid. Treatment is usually surgical removal.

Hemangioblastomas
Hemangioblastomas are benign tumors of blood vessels that are often associated with cysts. They are usually treated with surgical removal, with or without radiation therapy.

Epidermoid and dermoid tumors
Epidermoid and dermoid tumors are benign tumors containing accumulated left over skin tissue within the head or spinal canal. The tumors usually require surgical removal.

Malignant Brain Tumors

Primary Malignant Brain Tumors
The majority of primary brain tumors are malignant. Most primary malignant brain tumors arise from glial cells, which are tissues of the brain other than nerve cells or blood vessels. Unfortunately, these tumors can grow quickly and be very destructive. Management of these tumors depends primarily on the health of the patient and the location of the tumor. When feasible, treatment typically includes surgical removal followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy. Metastatic Brain Tumors

Metastatic tumors account for 10-15% of all brain tumors. The most common tumors that spread to the brain are those that originate in the lung, the breast, the kidney, or melanomas (skin cancer). Historically, the prognosis for metastatic brain tumors has been bleak. However, recent advances, including the advent of stereotactic radiosurgery, have led to better outcomes in survival rates and quality of life.

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LastUpdate: 2016-05-11 09:59:19

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