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Comprehensive Care for Brain Cancer


Brain cancer is a cancerous tumor in or near the brain. Primary brain cancer (primary tumor) is cancer that starts in the brain. Secondary brain cancer (secondary tumor) is cancer that has spread (metastasized) from another part of the body. However, some brain tumors are not cancerous.

Common tumors that form in the brain include:

  • Gliomas. Most cancerous brain tumors are this type. These tumors form in the supportive tissue of the brain.
  • Pineal and pituitary tumors. These tumors make up about 14 percent of brain tumors, but only a small number are cancerous.
  • Meningiomas. These are the most common type of brain tumor. The growths form in the membrane surrounding the brain (meninges). However, they are usually noncancerous (benign).

At Dignity Health, our cancer care services are designed to meet your physical, mental, and spiritual needs from the day you are diagnosed through treatment and beyond. Our state-of-the-art facilities provide personalized treatment to help get you back to your healthy life.

If you’ve been diagnosed with brain cancer in the Bay Area, Find a Doctor at one of our hospitals who will remain by your side throughout the entire process.

Brain Cancer Risk Factors

Doctors do not know what causes brain cancer. However, they have identified risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing it:

  • Family history of brain cancer
  • Exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiation
  • Age — brain cancer is more common in children and older adults
  • Infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Caucasian race
  • Male gender

Brain Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of brain cancer depend on the location and type of tumor. They may include:

  • Changes in judgment or personality
  • Balance problems
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Changes in memory, emotional state, hearing, touch, vision, or speech
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis or weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache or pressure
  • Difficulty swallowing or using facial muscles
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea and vomiting

Since many other conditions share these symptoms, visit a Dignity Health doctor to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of brain cancer.

Brain Cancer Treatment

Your treatment options depend on the size, type, aggressiveness of the cancer, and whether or not the cancer has spread.

At Dignity Health, our oncologists and neurologists collaborate to treat brain cancer using:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy, including stereotactic radiosurgery (CyberKnife)
  • Surgery
  • Targeted therapy, which identifies and selectively destroys cancer cells
  • Alternating electric field therapy or tumor treating fields, for a certain type of glioma (recurrent glioblastoma)

Talk to your Dignity Health doctor about what type of treatment or combination of treatments is right for you.

Dignity Health doctors diagnose and treat brain cancer in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.