What are the types of brain tumors?

What are the types of brain tumors?

Doctors classify brain and central nervous system tumors based on where they form and the kind of cells they involve.

Brain tumors that are usually benign include:

  • Acoustic neuroma: These tumors occur on the vestibular nerve (the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain). Acoustic neuromas are also called vestibular schwannomas.
  • Gangliocytoma: These central nervous system tumors form in neurons (nerve cells).
  • Meningioma: These are the most common type of primary brain tumors. Meningiomas develop slowly. They form in the meninges, the layers of tissue that protect the brain and spinal cord. In rare cases, a meningioma can be malignant.
  • Pineocytoma: These slow-growing tumors form in the pineal gland, which is located deep in the brain and secretes the hormone melatonin.
  • Pituitary adenoma: These tumors form in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland makes and controls hormones in the body. Pituitary adenomas are usually very small.
  • Chordoma: These slow-growing tumors typically begin at the base of the skull and the bottom part of the spine. They are mostly benign (not cancerous).

Cancerous brain tumors include:

  • Glioma: These tumors develop in glial cells, which surround and assist nerve cells. Two-thirds of cancerous primary brain tumors are gliomas. Types of gliomas include:
    • Astrocytoma: Astrocytomas form in glial cells called astrocytes.
    • Glioblastoma: Aggressive astrocytomas that grow quickly are glioblastomas.
    • Oligodendroglioma: These uncommon tumors begin in cells that create myelin (a layer of insulation around nerves in the brain).
  • Medulloblastoma: Medulloblastomas are fast-growing tumors that form at the base of the skull. These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children.

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