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Brain Tumors

What are brain tumors?

Brain tumors are growths formed from abnormal cells. They may be primary, which means the growths originate in your brain, or secondary, where cancer in another area of your body spreads to your brain.

Primary brain tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous), but secondary brain tumors are always cancerous.

There are more than 150 sorts of brain tumors, but some of those seen most often at Ventura Neuroscience Center include:

  • Meningioma - The most common form of brain tumors, meningiomas are benign growths on the meninges – layers of protective tissue around your brain and spinal cord.
  • Schwannoma - Schwannomas affect the protective nerve sheaths and are usually benign.
  • Pituitary adenoma - An adenoma is a benign tumor of the pituitary gland.
  • Gliomas - Gliomas originate in the brain's glial cells and account for the majority of malignant brain tumors. Ependymomas develop from a type of glial cell called an ependymal cell and are responsible for just 2-3% of all brain tumors.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme - Glioblastomas are the most aggressive brain cancers originating in your brain.
  • Acoustic neuroma - An acoustic neuroma forms on the nerve between your ear and brain that transmits information about sound and helps you balance.

What symptoms can brain tumors cause?

Brain tumor symptoms vary depending on the location of the tumor, its size, and how quickly it’s growing. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems keeping your balance
  • Seizures
  • Changes in the way you talk
  • Hearing problems
  • Personality changes

To diagnose your brain tumor, your provider at Ventura Neuroscience Center performs a neurological exam and views the results of diagnostic tests such as an MRI or CT scan. In some cases, you might need to undergo a stereotactic needle biopsy to diagnose the tumor type.

How are brain tumors treated?

The treatment your provider recommends for your brain tumor might depend to some degree on its size, where it is, and if it's spreading into other parts of your brain. Treatment options include:

  • Open surgery
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery

Surgery to remove the tumor can be effective but does present certain risks, such as damage to your brain function. Many patients benefit from a combination of treatments, such as surgery followed by radiation therapy.