In classifying brain tumors, the first distinction is whether the tumor originated in the brain or started in another area of the body and spread to the brain.
Primary brain tumors, such as glioblastomas and anaplastic astrocytomas, are among the types of tumor that originate in the brain.
Secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors originate in other parts of the body and spread to the brain.
Primary malignant brain tumors account for two percent of all cancers in adults in the United States; they are classified based on the type of cell from which they arise and their appearance:
- Acoustic neuromas (vestibular schwannomas)
- CNS lymphoma
- Germ cell tumors
- Pineal-region tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Persistent headaches
- Nausea, vomiting
- Neurocognitive symptoms
- Personality changes
Brain tumors can be identified with imaging, usually beginning with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a comprehensive neurosurgical evaluation. Tissue samples may be needed to confirm any diagnosis. Primary brain tumors rarely metastasize (spread) outside the central nervous system.
Primary brain tumors may be treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of all three. In many instances, the doctors at Houston Methodist will offer novel investigational treatments with a high likelihood of success through multicenter trials (clinical studies conducted at several research institutions/hospitals).
Metastatic Brain Tumors
Metastatic brain tumors (also called secondary brain tumors) are the most common form of brain tumors. They arise from cancer cells that metastasize (travel or spread) to the brain from another part of the body. Breast, lung, skin (melanoma), colon and kidney cancers most often metastasize to the brain. Patterns of metastasis differ among different primary tumor types.
- When breast or kidney cancer spreads to the brain, it usually causes a single tumor (also referred to as a “lesion” or “focus”).
- When lung, melanoma or colon cancer spreads to the brain, it often causes multiple tumors (foci). This occurs in about 80 percent of metastatic brain tumors.
- Metastatic brain tumors are more common in middle-aged and elderly adults than in younger individuals.
Often metastatic brain tumors are found before they cause symptoms. In other cases, patients may experience symptoms that prompt investigation:
- Loss of coordination (being unbalanced or weak on one side of the body)
- Behavioral or cognitive changes
US NEWS: NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE RANKED NO. 16 IN THE COUNTRY
Houston Methodist Neurological Institute is ranked #16 in U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 rankings for national hospitals in neurology and neurosurgery, we have reached this level of excellence by combining practiced skills with continuous learning and the cutting-edge research from the Houston Methodist Research Institute.
Houston Methodist treats all types of brain tumors at our convenient treatment locations across the city.