What is a Brain Tumour and what types exist?

Listen to Dr Adnan Jabbar explain in detail in the video above.

A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Many different types of brain tumours exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumours are cancerous (malignant). Tumours can start in the brain (primary cancer), or cancer elsewhere in the body can spread to the brain (secondary/metastic cancer).

Brain Tumour Foundation of Pakistan, and many other medical organisations around the world, refer to the World Health Organisation (WHO) classification system to identify brain tumours. The WHO classifies brain tumours by cell origin and how the cells behave, from the least aggressive (non-malignant) to the most aggressive (malignant). Some brain tumour types are assigned a grade ranging from Grade I (non-malignant) to Grade IV (most malignant), which also signifies the rate of growth.

On May 9, 2016, the WHO published an official reclassification of tumour types of the Central Nervous System (CNS), which helps doctors to diagnose more accurately, plan treatments accordingly and predict therapeutic response for patients. The reclassification document can be found here.

Types of brain tumours: 

Primary: Starting in the brain

Metastatic: Starting in other parts of the body and spreading to the brain

Benign: Slow-growing; non-cancerous. Benign tumours can still be difficult to treat if they are growing in or around certain structures of the brain.

Malignant: Cancerous. Unlike benign tumours that tend to stay contained, malignant tumours can be very aggressive. They grow rapidly and can spread to areas near the original tumour and to other areas in the brain.

Different names of primary brain tumour:


Glioma:

These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas,

oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.


Meningioma:

A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges).

Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas):

These are benign tumors that develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from your inner ear to your brain.


Pituitary adenomas:

These are tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors can affect the pituitary hormones with effects throughout the body.
 

Medulloblastomas:

These cancerous brain tumors are most common in children, though they can occur at any age. A
medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid.
- Germ cell tumors. Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell

tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.
 

Craniopharyngiomas:

These rare tumors start near the brain's pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.