The Wallace-Kettering Neuroscience Institute (WKNI) is dedicated to providing expert neurocare from a multidisciplinary team. The team is comprised of multiple physician specialties, neuroscience nurses, therapists and technicians who strive to deliver the best treatment and care for patients.
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells within the brain that occupies space. These tumors may be primary (starting in the brain), metastatic (travels from another part of the body). All brain tumors are either benign (non-cancerous), or malignant (fast growing cells). Even if a brain tumor is benign, it can still be dangerous as the benign tumor may press upon brain tissue, causing unnecessary damage. Therefore, it is crucial that primary, metastatic, benign and malignant brain tumors be evaluated and a treatment plan determined as soon as possible.
Most brain tumors appear in the upper part of the brain. This is the region of the brain that controls thought, emotion, reasoning, and language.
These symptoms occur due to pressure on the brain created by the tumor. Symptoms typically include headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, weakness/numbness in the arms or legs, difficulty with speech, trouble thinking, vision problems and changes in personality. To determine the exact cause of these symptoms, your neuroscience team will perform neurological evaluations and neuro diagnostic testing.
Cancerous brain tumors are defined as:
Primary – originating in the brain. These are then classified into two groups
- Glial tumors: Glial tumors, or gliomas are the most common type of primary brain tumors. They arise from the connective tissue of the brain. Types of gliomas include astrocytomas, glioblastoma, oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas. Most gliomas infiltrate brain tissue. These tumors make up 50% of all brain tumors.
- Non-glial tumors: Meningiomas comprise approximately 25% of brain tumors, with pituitary tumors making up 10% and acoustic neuromas comprising 7.5%. Other tumor types, including chondrosarcomas, germinomas, hemangiomas, teratomas, and chordomas, make up the remaining 7.5%
- Secondary – Metastatic tumors, start in another part of the body and spread to the brain.
Benign brain tumors are defined as:
- Meningiomas – A tumor that grows from the meninges of the brain. Generally benign, but can be malignant.
- Acoustic Neuroma – Benign tumor on ear nerve.
- Pituitary Adenomas – Benign tumors
Brain tumors are identified by the type of cell from which they arose or by the location in the brain where they occur. The World Health Organization (WHO) classification system is used to classify brain tumors by cell origin and how the cells behave, from the least aggressive, (benign)-WHO I, to the most aggressive (malignant)-WHO IV.