Conditions InDepth: Brain Tumors
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Brain tumors are the not same as those found in other parts of the body. A tumor can be benign or malignant. A benign tumor is not cancer. It will not spread to other parts of the body. But, it can still grow and put pressure on the brain. This pressure may damage healthy tissue and cause problems with how the brain works. Depending on where it is, pressure can cause problems with breathing, heart rate, or cause death.
Malignant tumors grow in an irregular way. They invade tissue around them. Brain tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body. But, they can spread throughout the brain. Damage caused by malignant tumors can also cause disability and death.
Normal Anatomy and the Development of Brain Tumors
The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS controls how the body works. It reads information from the senses. It also controls body temperature, sleep patterns, and movement. The brain is also the center for memory, learning, and emotions.
The 3 main parts are
Other nervous system structures:
Cell division and cell death are normal. It’s meant to replace old or damaged cells. Sometimes this can continue after it's supposed to stop. This extra growth forms a tumor. It’s not clear exactly what causes these problems. It’s likely a mix of genes and the environment.
Types of Brain Tumors
There are 2 main types:
The problems you have and how to treat them depend on where the tumor is. Most are named for the place they start:
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Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 8/8/2018
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