Brain tumors are abnormal growths of tissue inside the skull. They can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Even if a growth is not cancerous, it can put pressure on sensitive tissue in the brain, threatening your health and life.

Tumors that start in the brain are called primary tumors. Tumors that spread from cancer somewhere else in the body are said to be metastatic. Primary tumors usually grow more quickly.

Symptoms of brain tumors

  • Headaches, often in the morning
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Behavior or mood changes
  • Unclear thinking or memory problems
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Problems hearing or speaking
  • Feeling week or sleepy

How are brain tumors diagnosed?

Brain tumors are diagnosed with a physical and neurological examination. Lab rests and imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) will help our doctors confirm the diagnosis and pinpoint the location of the tumor. Doctors will need to examine a sample of the tumor, called a biopsy to determine whether the tumor is cancerous. The sample can often be taken with a needle instead of open surgery.

How are brain tumors treated?

Treatment for brain tumors is complex and requires a team of specialists with extensive knowledge of neuro-oncology. Your team may include neurosurgeons, neurologists, medical and radiation oncologists and endocrinologists. Others that may care for you include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurse psychologists, social workers and rehabilitation specialists.

You will probably need surgery if your tumor can be safely removed. Modern surgical techniques can remove tumors that in years past would have been considered inoperable. Our neurosurgeons are highly experienced and use advanced techniques to remove tumors both minimally invasive to open surgery. Treatment may also include radiation therapy, chemotherapy or targeted therapy (using medicine that attacks cancer cells without harming other cells).