Brain Tumors (Adult)


General Information

What is adult brain tumor?

Adult brain tumor is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells begin to grow in the tissues of the brain. The brain controls memory and learning, senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch), and emotion. It also controls other parts of the body, including muscles, organs, and blood vessels.

This summary covers tumors that start in the brain (primary brain tumors). Often cancer found in the brain has started somewhere else in the body and has spread (metastasized) to the brain. This is called brain metastasis.

A doctor should be seen if the following symptoms appear: frequent headaches, vomiting, or difficulty walking or speaking.

If there are symptoms, a doctor may order a computed tomographic scan, a special x-ray that uses a computer to make a picture of the brain. A magnetic resonance imaging scan, which uses magnetic waves to make a picture of the brain, may also be done. Often surgery is required to determine if there is a brain tumor and to see what type of tumor it is.

The chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the type of brain tumor and the patient's general state of health.

Stage Information

Types of adult brain tumor:

Once adult brain tumor is found, more tests will be done to determine the type of tumor. A doctor will also need to know how different the tumor cells are from the cells that are near it, which is called the histologic grade of the tumor. To plan treatment, the doctor needs to know the type and grade of brain tumor. The following types are used to group adult brain tumors.

Astrocytomas
Astrocytomas are tumors that start in brain cells called astrocytes. There are different kinds of astrocytomas, which are defined by how the cancer cells look under a microscope.

Noninfiltrating astrocytoma
Noninfiltrating astrocytomas are tumors that grow slowly and usually do not grow into the tissues around them.

Well-differentiated mildly and moderately anaplastic astrocytoma
Well-differentiated mildly and moderately anaplastic astrocytomas are slow growing, but grow more quickly than noninfiltrating astrocytomas. They start to grow into other tissues around them.

Anaplastic astrocytoma
Anaplastic astrocytomas have cells that look very different from normal cells and that grow more rapidly.

Glioblastoma multiforme
Glioblastoma multiformes are tumors that grow very quickly and have cells that look very different from normal cells. Glioblastoma multiforme is also called grade IV astrocytoma.

Brain Stem Gliomas
Brain stem gliomas are tumors located in the bottom part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord (the brain stem).

Cerebellar Astrocytoma
Cerebellar astrocytoma occurs in the area of the brain called the cerebellum, which is just above the back of the neck. Cerebellar astrocytomas usually grow slowly and do not usually spread from where they began to other parts of the brain or body.

Ependymal Tumors
Ependymal tumors are tumors that begin in the ependyma, the cells that line the passageways in the brain where special fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord (called cerebrospinal fluid) is made and stored. There are different kinds of ependymal tumors, which are defined by how the cells look under a microscope.

Well-differentiated ependymoma
Well-differentiated ependymomas have cells that look very much like normal cells and grow quite slowly.

Anaplastic ependymoma
Anaplastic ependymomas are ependymal tumors that do not look like normal cells and grow more quickly than well-differentiated ependymal tumors.

Ependymoblastoma
Ependymoblastomas are rare cancers that usually occur in children. They may grow very quickly.

Oligodendroglial Tumors
Oligodendroglial tumors begin in the brain cells called oligodendrocytes, which provide support and nourishment for the cells that transmit nerve impulses. There are different types of oligodendroglial tumors, which are defined by how the cells look under a microscope.

Well-differentiated oligodendroglioma
Well-differentiated oligodendrogliomas are slow-growing tumors that look very much like normal cells.

Anaplastic oligodendroglioma
Anaplastic oligodendrogliomas grow more quickly, and the cancer cells look very different from normal cells.

Other Brain Tumors

Mixed gliomas
Mixed gliomas are brain tumors that occur in more than one type of brain cell, including cells of astrocytes, ependymal cells, and/or oligodendrocytes.

Medulloblastoma
Medulloblastomas are brain tumors that begin in the lower part of the brain. They are almost always found in children or young adults. This type of cancer may spread from the brain to the spine.

Pineal parenchymal tumors
Pineal region tumors are tumors found in or around a tiny organ located near the center of the brain (the pineal gland). The tumors can be slow growing (pineocytomas) or fast growing (pineoblastomas). Astrocytomas may also start here.

Germ cell tumors
Germ cell tumors arise from the sex cells. There are different kinds of germ cells, including germinomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas, and teratomas.

Craniopharyngioma
Craniopharyngiomas are tumors that occur near the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small organ about the size of a pea; this gland is located just above the back of the nose and controls many of the body's functions.

Meningioma
Meningiomas are tumors that occur in the membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord (the meninges). Meningiomas usually grow slowly.

Malignant meningioma
Malignant meningioma is a rare tumor that grows more quickly than other meningiomas.

Choroid Plexus Tumors
The choroid plexus is tissue located in the spaces inside the brain called ventricles. The choroid plexus makes the fluid that fills the ventricles and surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Tumors of the choroid plexus can grow slowly (choroid plexus papilloma) or grow more rapidly (anaplastic choroid plexus papilloma). The rapidly growing tumors are more likely to spread to other places in the brain and to the spinal cord.

Recurrent
Recurrent disease means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may come back in the brain or in another part of the body.

Treatment Option Overview

How adult brain tumors are treated:

There are treatments for all patients with an adult brain tumor. Three kinds of treatment are used:

-surgery
-radiation therapy
-chemotherapy

Surgery is the most common treatment of adult brain tumors. To take out the cancer from the brain, a doctor will cut a part of the bone from the skull to get to the brain. This operation is called a craniotomy. After the doctor removes the cancer, the bone will be put back or a piece of metal or fabric will be used to cover the opening in the skull.

Radiation therapy uses x-rays produced by a machine called a linear accelerator or a cobalt machine to kill cancer cells from the outside and shrink tumors (external-beam radiation therapy). Radiation therapy may also be used by putting materials that produce radiation (radioisotopes) through thin plastic tubes into the tumor to kill cancer cells from the inside (internal radiation therapy).

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in the vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells throughout the body.

Biological therapy (using the body's immune system to fight cancer) is also being studied in clinical trials. Biological therapy uses materials made by the body or made in a laboratory to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against disease. Biological therapy is sometimes called biological response modifier therapy or immunotherapy.

Treatment by Type

Treatment of adult brain tumor depends on the type and stage of the disease, and the patient's age and overall health.

Standard treatment may be considered because of its effectiveness in past studies, or participation in a clinical trial may be considered. Not all patients are cured with standard therapy, and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired. For these reasons, clinical trials are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the most up-to-date information. Clinical trials are ongoing in most parts of the country for most types of adult brain tumor.

Adult Noninfiltrating Astrocytoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer.
2. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
3. If anaplastic astrocytoma comes back (recurs) after surgery, treatment may be radiation therapy if it was not given before. If radiation therapy was given before, clinical trials of chemotherapy or biological therapy should be considered.

Adult Well-Differentiated Mildly and Moderately Anaplastic Astrocytoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery alone.
3. A clinical trial of surgery followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Adult Anaplastic Astrocytoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
3. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
4. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.
5. A clinical trial of chemotherapy drugs, which are placed in the body during surgery.

Adult Glioblastoma Multiforme
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
2. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
3. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
4. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.
5. A clinical trial of chemotherapy drugs, which are placed in the body during surgery.

Adult Brain Stem Glioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. External-beam radiation therapy.
2. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy.

Adult Well-Differentiated Ependymoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer.
2. Surgery to remove the cancer followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
3. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy.

Adult Malignant Ependymoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. A clinical trial of external-beam radiation therapy with chemotherapy.
3. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy.

Adult Well-Differentiated Oligodendroglioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery to remove the cancer.
3. A clinical trial of radiation therapy plus chemotherapy.

Adult Anaplastic Oligodendroglioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
3. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
4. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.

Mixed Gliomas
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
3. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
4. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.

Adult Medulloblastoma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer plus external-beam radiation therapy.
2. A clinical trial of surgery plus external-beam radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Adult Pineal Parenchymal Tumor
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery plus external-beam radiation therapy.
2. Surgery plus external-beam radiation therapy plus chemotherapy.
3. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
4. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.

Adult Central Nervous System Germ Cell Tumor
Treatment depends on whether the cancer can be removed in an operation, the kind of cells, the location of the tumor, and other factors.

Adult Craniopharyngioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the cancer.
2. Surgery to remove the cancer followed by radiation therapy.

Adult Meningioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery to remove the tumor.
2. Surgery plus radiation therapy.
3. Radiation therapy for patients with tumors that cannot be removed with surgery.

Adult Malignant Meningioma
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery followed by external-beam radiation therapy.
2. A clinical trial of new forms of radiation therapy, such as internal radiation, radiation given during surgery, or radiation given with drugs to make the cancer cells more sensitive to radiation.
3. A clinical trial of chemotherapy or biological therapy following radiation therapy.

Recurrent Adult Brain Tumor
Treatment may be one of the following:

1. Surgery alone or followed by chemotherapy.
2. External-beam radiation therapy alone, if not used during previous treatment, with or without chemotherapy.
3. Internal radiation therapy.
4. Chemotherapy.
5. A clinical trial of chemotherapy drugs, which may placed in the body during surgery.






The information on this page was obtained from the National Cancer Institute. The National Cancer Institute provides accurate, up-to-date information on many types of cancer, information on clinical trials, resources for people dealing with cancer, and information for researchers and health professionals.

The National Cancer Institute is in no way affiliated with the Mary Stolfa Cancer Foundation.

The information on this web site is provided for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are familiar with your individual medical needs. The MSCF disclaims all obligations and liabilities for damages arising from the use or attempted use of the information, including but not limited to direct, indirect, special, and consequential damages, attorneys' and experts' fees and court costs. Any use of the information will be at the risk of the user.





| Information on Specific Cancers (N-Z) |
| Return Home | Fundraisers | Donations | Wall of Honor | Stories of Hope | Information on Specific Cancers (A-M) | Cancer Issues | Contact Us | Site Index |
 
     




Copyright 2016, Mary Stolfa Cancer Foundation. All rights reserved.