The brain and spinal column make up the central nervous system where vital functions such as thought, speech and bodily movement are controlled. A brain tumor begins when normal cells in the brain mutate and grow uncontrollably, forming a tumor. Brain tumors can be low grade (slow growing) or high grade (fast growing).
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. Doctors refer to a tumor based on where the tumor cells originated, and whether they are cancerous (malignant) or not (benign).
Benign: Benign tumors are the least aggressive type of brain tumor. They originate from cells within or surrounding the brain, do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly, and typically have clear borders that do not spread to other tissue.
Malignant: Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and often do not have clear borders. They are considered to be life threatening because they grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain tissue.
Primary: Primary brain tumors start in cells of the brain and are called primary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but rarely to other organs.
Metastatic: Metastatic brain tumors begin in another part of the body and then spread to the brain. These tumors are more common than primary brain tumors and are named by the location in which they begin.