Besides tumors in the brain, cancer can begin or spread to other central nervous system areas (CNS) like the column, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. Cancer developing in the spinal cord or the surrounding structures is spinal cancer. Most spine tumors are metastatic tumors that move to the spine from another body location.
We will know about some common brain cancer types and their location in the brain. Early detection is the key to avoiding any further complications. Let’s understand the different types of brain cancers.
Do All Brain Tumors Classify As Cancer?
All brain cancers consist of tumors, but all tumors are not cancerous. For example, half of all glioma brain cancer types detected in adults are glioblastoma (an aggressive brain cancer form). Oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas are also malignant brain tumor types. However, many craniopharyngiomas, pituitary, and meningiomas tumors are benign. Due to this reason, it is vital to get accurate and thorough brain cancer detection. Also, it is vital to know that benign tumors can harm brain tissue and result in side effects like fatigue, headaches, or blurred or double vision. So, even when you don’t have a cancerous brain tumor, getting the right and timely treatment is better for your health.
Their effects on the brain explain the different types of brain cancers. Also, we’ll know how to prevent or treat them. Remember that only brain cancer awareness can help us get treated better.
Brain Cancer Types
These are the common brain tumor and cancer types reported in patients.
Astrocytomas are the common central nervous system tumors that arise in the spinal cord or brain. For adults, astrocytomas occur mostly in the cerebrum, the brain’s largest part. The cerebrum needs sensory information to feed us things around us and how the body should respond.
Brain stem gliomas are astrocytomas forming in the brain stem controlling vital functions like blood pressure, body temperature, thirst, hunger, and breathing. The brain stem also transmits all body signals from the brain. The brain stem is in the brain’s lowest part and links the spinal cord and the brain. It’s not easy to treat tumors in this area. Most glioma brain cancer types are high-grade astrocytomas.
Glioblastoma multiforme is also known as glioblastoma, grade 4 astrocytoma, or GBM. It is an aggressive or quick-growing brain cancer present on supportive brain tissue. Glioblastoma is a common grade 4 brain cancer. Glioblastomas appear in the brain lobe, but they can develop commonly in the temporal or frontal lobes. Glioblastomas generally affect adults.
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Meningioma starts in membrane cells surrounding the spinal cord or brain. Meningioma develops in brain cells for around 15 percent of intracranial tumors. Most tumors are benign (slow-growing or non-cancerous). Meningiomas can be generally removed with surgery. Some meningiomas wouldn’t need quick treatment and would not remain detected for years. Most meningiomas can be diagnosed in women around 30 to 50 years.
Besides astrocytomas, various primary brain cancers and nerve tumors are from glial cells. They include:
- Oligodendrogliomas develop in cells producing myelin, the fatty covering protecting the brain and spinal cord nerves. They grow slowly and don’t spread in the surrounding brain tissue. Brain tumors occur mostly in middle-aged adults. They have favorable outcomes compared to astrocytomas.
- Ependymomas occur in the ventricle lining or brain spaces around the spinal cord. Although ependymomas develop at an age, these cancer tumors are common in adolescents and children.
- There are two brain cancer cells in mixed gliomas: astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. This brain cancer mostly starts in the cerebrum.
Pituitary tumors are lumps in the pituitary, a little gland around pea size inside the skull below the brain and above nasal passages. The gland controls the hormone levels secreted through endocrine glands throughout the body, providing it a vital role in controlling the hormonal system and key body functions.
The pituitary glands comprise four parts: the posterior (back) and anterior (front) lobe, the independent functions of each part, and the intermediate area in two lobes and stalking connecting the pituitary to the interbrain (including the hypothalamus, epithalamus, and thalamus). Most pituitary tumors start in the anterior lobe. They rarely vary depending on the posterior lobe. Pituitary tumors are about 9 – 12% of primary brain cancer types.
Most pituitary tumors are pituitary adenomas, benign growths that don’t move beyond the skull. Although these tumors are non-cancerous, they often result in other medical issues near the brain and cause the pituitary gland to produce excess hormones.
Pituitary cancers, also known as pituitary carcinomas, are rare. There have been only some documented cases in the U.S. As pituitary cancers, and benign adenomas are similar under a microscope, the carcinomas are diagnosed when they spread to other body parts.
Other Brain Tumors
Many brain cancers don’t start in glial tissue. Some of such cancer forms are:
Craniopharyngiomas start in brain areas near pituitary glands (the endocrine glands making hormones controlling other glands and body functions) near the hypothalamus. These tumors often start in kids, adolescents, or adults.
Germ Cell Tumors
Germ cell brain cancer starts from the developing age (sperm or egg) cells, known as germ cells. Germinoma is the common germ cell tumor type in the brain. Besides the brain, germinomas can also form in the chest, abdomen, testicles, or ovaries. Many germ cell tumors can also occur in kids.
Pineal Region Tumors
Pineal region tumors can start around the pineal gland, a little organ in the brain center. The pineal gland also makes melatonin, a hormone playing a vital role in the sleep-wake cycle. Brain cancer tumors can grow slowly (pineocytoma) or quickly (pineoblastoma). Pineal cancer surgery needs the expertise of an experienced surgeon as the pineal region is not easy to reach.
Medulloblastomas are fast-growing brain cancer types that form the cerebellum neurons. The cerebellum is the brain’s lower back and controls posture, balance, and movement. These tumors are prevalent in young adults or kids.
Primary CNS Lymphomas
Primary CNS lymphomas can develop in the lymph tissue of the spinal cord or brain. Brain cancer is generally present in people with compromised immune systems.
These are some of the most common brain cancer types and subtypes affecting populations of different age groups. Early detection and brain cancer treatment are the best ways to minimize any risk of dangerous growth. At University Cancer Centers, we ensure brain cancer diagnosis and brain cancer treatment with the most advanced technology and provide treatment under expert supervision from world-class doctors and surgeons. We provide the best-in-class patient experience and ensure that the issue is treated from the root cause.