OSF Illinois Neurological Institute

Types of Brain Tumors

Most brain tumors are defined according to the cells from which they arise.

The most common brain tumors in adults are:

Brain Metastases

Sometimes, as cancer advances through the body, it can spread to the brain. Depending on the kind of cancer that has caused the spread, brain surgery may be the first line of treatment. The most common kinds of cancer to spread (metastasize) throughout the body are lung, breast, colon, melanoma, and kidney cancer. People are surviving cancer longer than ever before. As a result, it is likely that the incidence of metastatic brain tumors will rise in the years to come. If brain surgery is indicated for your metastatic tumor, you may also need radiation and/or chemotherapy to treat this. If brain surgery is not indicated, you may require radiation or stereotactic radiosurgery. Our team can work with you to provide the most appropriate treatment recommendations. 

Meningiomas

This tumor is typically benign (non-cancerous) and arises from the covering of the brain called the meninges. They are most common in women and older adults and are the most common type of benign brain tumor. Symptoms include headaches, seizures and other neurological symptoms. Depending on their location, they may be cured with surgery. However, tumors occurring deep in the brain may be best treated by radiosurgery, such as Gamma Knife treatment.

Gliomas

Gliomas (glioblastoma, oligoastrocytoma, astrocytoma, oligodendendroglioma, ependymoma) are brain tumors that arise in the substance of brain tissue. They can occur at any age, but are most common after the age of 40. Gliomas are different from most tumors because there is not often a sharp difference between them being benign or malignant (noncancerous or cancerous). Because of this, they are typically graded 1-4. Grade 1 is uncommon and includes benign tumors, while Grade 4 is more common and includes highly malignant tumors. Grades 2 and 3 are considered intermediate types. Other than Grade 1 tumors, glioma tumors have a high chance of returning, no matter the treatment, including radiation, surgery or chemotherapy. Frequently they return as higher-grade or a more malignant tumor.

Acoustic Neuromas

Acoustic neuromas tumors are relatively common with the most common symptom being hearing loss. Because there are many causes of hearing loss, to confirm an acoustic neuroma, an imaging test must be performed. An MRI is typically this test.

As these types of tumors grow, they can affect more than just hearing. They can also cause numbness in the face, facial weakness, headaches and difficulty with balance.

Options for treatment vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. In cases of limited symptoms or in the elderly, close observation may be the best course of treatment. However, if the tumor is growing or moderate in size, the Gamma Knife treatment can be an effective treatment option, along with open surgery. A large tumor typically requires an open surgery.

Pituitary Adenomas

Pituitary adenomas are generally benign tumors that arise in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland regulates many of the hormones that are secreted through the body and is located at the base of the brain. As these tumors grow, they can encompass areas of the brain related to sight, causing vision loss. Some pituitary adenomas can be treated with medication, others require surgery. If surgery is required it is usually done through the nose, which is safer and reduces recovery time. At the INI our team performs surgery to remove pituitary adenomas on a frequent basis. The type of surgery required to remove a pituitary adenoma is incisionless and done through the nose. This is called an endoscopic transphenoidal procedure.