April 17, 2024

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What is a brain tumor?  |  health.be

What is a brain tumor? | health.be

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What is a brain tumor?


There are up to 120 different types of brain tumors. A brain tumor can be benign or malignant, but with these types of tumors the distinction between benign and malignant is less clear than with many other tumors. Brain tumors can develop at any age. They become more common with age.

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Benign or malignant

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A brain tumor can be benign or malignant.

  • In a benign brain tumor, there is a crust around the cancer cells. Cells can divide, but cannot spread beyond the cortex. This does not mean that the benign tumor is harmless. As a brain tumor grows, it can put pressure on certain parts of the brain. This can cause serious complaints. In the worst cases, you can even die.
  • A malignant brain tumor has no covering around the cancer cells. The cells can therefore grow unhindered and affect the tissue surrounding the tumor. Cancer cells can also spread throughout the body. This can cause multiple tumors (metastases). When we talk about a malignant tumor, we call it cancer.

Read also: How do you recognize brain cancer and what are the risk factors?

Types of brain tumors

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There are different types of brain tumors. Each type requires its own approach.

  • Gliomas. A glioma is a tumor that arises from the supporting cells of the brain. There are different types of gliomas, most of which are malignant. After treatment, the glioma usually returns.
  • Meningiomas. Meningioma arises in the meninges. Most meningiomas are benign. It does not spread further in the brain. However, meningioma is located in important areas of the brain, which may cause serious complaints.
  • Pituitary gland tumors. A pituitary tumor develops in the pituitary gland. This is the area in your skull, behind your nose. A tumor in the pituitary gland is often benign, but it can cause serious complaints because it presses on important parts of the brain.
  • Tumors in or near the spinal cord. Tumors that originate in the spinal cord are divided into two groups: primary tumors (originating in the spinal cord), which are rare, and secondary tumors (tumors spread elsewhere in the body to parts around the spinal cord), which are more common. Compression on the spinal cord can cause complaints such as pain, loss of sensation, and paralysis below the level of the tumor.
  • Bridge angle tumors. A pontine angle tumor arises in the angle between the brainstem and the cerebellum. This type of tumor usually arises from the eighth cranial nerve and is called a vestibular schwannoma. A bridge angle tumor is almost always benign: it grows very slowly and does not spread. However, it can cause complaints if it presses on one or more nerves.

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How dangerous is a brain tumor?

The severity of a brain tumor must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In general, tumors classified as malignant are more dangerous than benign tumors.

Whether a brain tumor is benign or malignant, both types can cause serious damage to the body by pressing on and spreading to healthy parts of the brain. In any case, the brain tumor must be treated in all cases.

Read also: What is your probability of getting cancer?


Last updated: February 2024

100 Years of Cancer Foundation

100 Years of Cancer Foundation

Cancer Foundation

In 2024, the Cancer Foundation will celebrate its centenary under the royal patronage of Queen Mathilde. From the beginning in 1924, its main motivation has been: transforming hope into victory.

100 years of fighting cancer – Cancer Foundation

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