A brain tumor forms when the cells present in the brain start dividing uncontrollably and form a mass. These masses or tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (non-malignant). These can form primarily in the brain (primary tumors) or spread to the brain from other body parts (secondary tumors). Both benign and malignant tumors can lead to increased pressure in the skull and disruptions in brain functions, which can lead to various health complications.
The incidence of brain tumors is relatively low compared to other forms of tumors. Nevertheless, these cannot be ignored. It can be seen in both adults and children.
In India, brain-related tumors affect 5–10 out of 1,00,000 people.
While some tumors that form in the brain are not dangerous and can be treated effectively, others can be aggressive in their growth rate and progression and pose a danger to patients’ health. Early diagnosis and timely treatment support the effective management of this condition.
The terms "brain tumor" and "brain cancer" are often used synonymously. However, they are not quite the same. Brain tumors refer to both benign and malignant growths inside the brain, whereas brain cancers only refer to malignant growths that tend to spread to other body parts.
Brain tumors can be benign or malignant, which are further classified into different types, depending on their origin. The following are the different types of brain tumors:
Benign tumors of the brain tend to grow slowly, and rarely spread to other parts of the body. They cause complications by compressing specific regions of the brain. The following are the different types of brain tumors that are benign in nature:
Commonly occurring at the base of the skull or spine, chordomas arise from the notochord remains. Chordoma is also referred to as notochordal sarcoma. Chordomas are one of the most common types of brain tumors in adults.
Typically seen among children, craniopharyngiomas form near the pituitary gland. mbtscrollThese tumors lead to hormonal imbalances and vision-related problems in patients.
As the name says, meningiomas form in the meninges, the protective layers that sheath the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas have a slow growth rate and can grow in any part of the brain.
These benign tumors form in the pituitary gland and can lead to hormonal imbalances and disruptions in bodily functions. This is one of the brain tumor types that can lead to various brain tumor symptoms in women, such as hormonal imbalance, disruption in menstrual cycles, etc.
Glomus jugulare tumors are extremely rare. They commonly form in the bone of the skull base. These tumors can affect the blood vessels, nerves, upper neck, ears, and skull base.
Gangliocytomas are rare and form in the temporal lobes of the brain, affecting the central nervous system. These tumors comprise mature neurons.
Pinecytomas originate from the pineal gland cells. Pineocytomas can lead to hormonal imbalances, disrupted sleep-wake cycles, and vision problems.
Schwannomas arise from Schwann cells, which are responsible for myelin (the protective covering of nerves) production. Schwannomas are more common in adults.
These refer to those tumors that grow at a faster rate and tend to spread to other parts of the body. The most common types of brain cancer tumors include:
Gliomas arise from glial cells, which are responsible for the protection of nerve cells (neurons). Glioma is the most common brain tumor in adults.
Based on the type of cells that they originate from, these brain cancer tumors are further classified. The following are different types of glioma:
This type of glioma arises from astrocytes, which are responsible for several metabolic and structural tasks within the nervous system. High-grade astrocytomas, also known as glioblastoma multiforme, are considered one of the worst types of brain cancer.
This type of glioma arises from the oligodendrocytes that are responsible for myelin production. They tend to grow at a slower rate.
Ependymomas, which can occur both in adults and children, form in the ependymal cells that sheath the brain ventricles and spinal canal.
As the name says, brain stem gliomas form in the brain stem. This type of brain cancer is predominantly seen in children and is often difficult to treat. It also has a poor prognosis.
Hemangioblastomas are rare and form in the brain or spinal cord. Hemangioblastomas are often associated with von Hippel-Lindau disease, a genetic condition. This is one of the most common types of brain tumor in adults.
Rhabdoid tumors primarily arise from the cerebellum and brainstem; nevertheless, they can form in any part of the brain and spinal cord. Often seen in children, rhabdoid tumors are aggressive.
Certain tumors of the brain are more common among children and will often demand specialized care. Some of the common types of pediatric brain tumors include medulloblastomas, gliomas, ependymomas, and others.