Brain Tumor Information

About Brain Tumors
The brain can be affected by many different kinds of growths, which are called tumors. Malignant (cancerous) tumors can arise within the brain itself, or they may begin in another part of the body and spread to the brain (metastasize).

Primary tumors are those that originate in the brain tissue. Secondary tumors begin as cancers in another part of the body, such as the lung, which then metastasize to the brain.

Not all growths are cancerous. Some are not malignant (that is, they are benign tumors). But because the brain is enclosed within the rigid skull, any abnormal tissue growth can cause problems. In recent years, advances in surgery, radiation and chemotherapy have improved outcomes for people with brain tumors.

Advanced diagnostic and surgical techniques, better radiation therapy technologies and other novel treatments are all being used at City of Hope to stop the growth and spread of brain tumors. And in partnership with our patients, we are continually exploring even more effective treatments through clinical trials and research, including more effective chemotherapies, gene therapies and immunotherapies.

Common Forms of Brain Cancer
  •     Glioma
  •     Glioma - Astrocytoma
  •     Glioma - Ependymoma
  •     Glioma - Glioblastoma
  •     Medulloblastoma
  •     Meningioma
  •     Metastatic Brain Tumors
  •     Pituitary Tumor (Adenoma)
  •     Schwannoma
Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing brain tumors:
  •     Male gender - In general, brain tumors are more common in males than females. However, meningiomas are more common in females.
  •     Being Caucasian
  •     Family history - People with family members who have gliomas may be more likely to develop this disease.
  •     Radiation or chemical exposure at work

Brain Tumor Symptoms

A doctor should be seen if the following symptoms appear:
  •     Frequent headaches
  •     Vomiting
  •     Loss of appetite
  •     Changes in mood and personality
  •     Changes in ability to think and learn
  •     Seizures
Diagnosing Brain Tumors
Several tests may be used to diagnose brain tumors, including:
  • Physical exam and history
  • Neurologic exam 
    The doctor checks for alertness, muscle strength, coordination, reflexes and response to pain. The doctor also examines the eyes to look for swelling caused by a tumor pressing on the nerve that connects the eye and brain.
  • CT or CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scan
    This procedure uses a computer connected to an X-ray machine to obtain detailed pictures of areas inside the body. A dye may be used to help visualize organs or tissues more clearly.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
    MRI creates a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, using the combination of a powerful magnet, radio waves and computer imaging.
  • Biopsy
    Tissue samples are examined under the microscope to determine what types of cells are present.