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Basics of Brain Tumors

What You Need to Know about Brain Tumors

  • A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal tissue growth in the brain.There are over 120 brain tumor types. Two of the most common types of brain tumor are meningioma and glioma.

  • Brain tumor grading is a category system that describes the brain tumor cells and indicates how likely the tumor is to grow and spread.

  • Brain tumor treatment may involve observation, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these methods.

  • Researchers are still looking for the causes of brain tumor. Exposure to some forms of radiation may increase brain tumor risk.

Brain tumors can cause local damage by growing and pushing on crucial areas of the brain. They can also cause problems if they block the flow of fluid around the brain, which can lead to an increase in the pressure inside the skull. Some types of tumors can spread through the spinal fluid to distant areas of the brain or the spine.  

A primary brain tumor can be malignant or benign:

  • A malignant tumor is more dangerous because it can grow quickly and may grow into or spread to other parts of the brain or to the spinal cord. Malignant tumors are also sometimes called brain cancer. Metastatic brain tumors are always malignant because they have spread to the brain from other areas of cancer in the body.

  • A benign primary brain tumor is not cancer. Benign tumors can cause damage by growing and pressing on other parts of the brain, but they don't spread. In some cases, a benign tumor can turn into a malignant tumor.

Symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the size and location of the tumor, as well as other factors. They may include:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness or numbness

  • Vomiting

  • Changes in speech, vision, hearing, or personality

  • Seizures

  • Feeling drowsy

  • Problems with balance or walking

More Information about Meningioma from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Brain scane showing a meningioma

The Most Common Brain Tumor: 5 Things You Should Know

A brain tumor diagnosis is scary, but not all tumors are malignant. Read these facts about meningioma, the most common brain tumor.

Read more

More Information about Brain Tumors from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Woman suffering from a headache

Headache: Could It Be a Brain Tumor?

A bad headache can be scary. If the pain lasts or recurs, you may wonder if you have a serious problem such as a brain tumor.

Read more

More Information About Brain Tumors from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Dr. Weingart speaking with a patient

Brain Matters: A Monthly Podcast

Each month, Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Jon Weingart comments on news from the field of neurosurgery, discussing new discoveries and research in the context of the larger picture of current practice. Brain Matters is created with an eye toward informing both patients and practitioners in their decision making.

  1. Podcast 1: Meningiomas
  2. Podcast 2: Brain Tumor Monitoring
  3. Podcast 3: Electrical Fields and Brain Tumors
  4. Podcast 4: Abnormal MRI? Here’s What To Do Next

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