Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (2023)


Abnormal cell growthit leads to the formation of a cluster or mass of cells called a tumour. The brain is enclosed in a rigid structure called the skull, and any extra or abnormal mass can cause problems.

There are two types of tumors - malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). The growth of these tumors puts extra pressure on the inside of the skull, causing it to enlarge. This can cause brain damage and even death.

Brain tumors are divided into two categories - primary and secondary.

primary brain tumors

Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (1)

Aprimary brain tumorit originates in the brain itself. These tumors can be benign or malignant. In adults, meningiomas and gliomas are the most common tumor types.

These tumors can develop from your brain:

(Video) Understanding Brain Tumor Survival Rates

  • The membranes that line your brain are called the meninges.
  • brain cells
  • neurons
  • glands


These are tumors that originate in glial cells. The function of these cells is

  • Supply the central nervous system with nutrients.
  • Delete dead and non-functional neurons
  • Eliminate cellular waste
  • Support the development of the central nervous system

The types of tumors that originate from glial cells are:

  • Glioblastoma
  • Oligodendroglial tumors (frontal temporal lobes)
  • Astrocytic tumors (in the brain)

Some other primary brain tumors are:

  • Ependymoma– are usually benign
  • Hypophysentumoren- Mostly benign
  • Primary Germ Cell Tumors– Benign and malignant
  • Schwannome– originate from schwannoma cells present in the myelin sheath
  • lymphomaprimary central nervous system (malignant)
  • Craniofaringoma– These are found in children and are mostly benign in nature. Symptoms include precocious puberty and visual disturbances.

Schwannomeand meningiomas appear between the ages of 40 and 70. Women are more prone to meningiomas than men. Schwannomas can occur in both men and women and are usually benign in nature.

However, although they are benign, due to their location and size, they can cause some serious complications. Malignant meningiomas and schwannomas are rarely found, but when present they can be very destructive.

Secondary brain tumors

Most brain tumors areSecondary forms of tumors. They originate somewhere in the body and move or metastasize and reach the brain. Lung cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and kidney cancer can metastasize to the brain.

Secondary brain tumors are malignant because benign tumors do not spread to other organs.

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Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (3)

Factors that can cause a brain tumor

  • Alter-The risk of developing brain tumors increases with age.
  • family history -Brain tumors are not usually genetically inherited. Only 5-10% of cancers are genetic.
  • Breed Type –Caucasians are more prone to brain tumors. Meningiomas are common in African Americans.
  • Exposure to Chemicals -Some chemicals are responsible for the development of tumors. Exposure to these cancer-causing chemicals increases the risk of brain tumors.
  • radiation– A person exposed to radiation is more likely to have a brain tumor. Even high-radiation cancer therapies can put the doctor performing them at risk of developing a tumor. If you live near a nuclear power plant, even a small leak could put you in great danger. The nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima are prime examples of people being exposed to radiation and developing cancer.
  • chickenpox - American Brain Tumor Associationstates that a person who had chickenpox as a child tends to have a lower risk of developing brain tumors.

Symptoms of a brain tumor

Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (4)

Symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor. Some tumors directlydestroy brain tissue, and some exert indirect pressure on the area around the brain. In both cases, the symptoms can be quite pronounced, including:

  • Headaches when sleeping, when waking up in the morning and during exercise or sneezing and coughing.
  • confusion
  • To vomit
  • change in vision
  • seizures (usually in adults)
  • Weakness in part of a face or limb
  • disturbed mental function

some other symptomsmay include memory loss, clumsiness, difficulty writing and reading, uneven pupils, droopy eyelids, changes in sensory perception, clumsiness, impaired attention which may include loss of consciousness, uncontrolled movements, dizziness or lightheadedness, trouble walking , weakness in arms, legs and face, Tremors, difficulty swallowing, loss of bladder, loss of bowel control, etc.

Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors

  • Augmentation of feet and hands
  • Gynecomastia (development of breast tissue) in men
  • Galactorrhea (discharge from the nipples)
  • obesity
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Hirsutism (excess body hair)
  • low blood pressure
  • vision changes

Diagnosis of brain tumors

Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (5)

Physical examand the patient's history is the first step towards diagnosis. The doctor may order a detailed neurological examination during the physical exam.

They may also run some tests to see the location of the cranial nerves that start in your brain.

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Aoptical examinationit is also done using an ophthalmoscope (an instrument that illuminates your retina), which allows the doctor to see how the pupils react to a light source.

It also allows the doctor to check the optic nerves for any swelling. Swelling can occur when a tumor presses on the skull.

Doctors may also evaluate:

  • Mental ability to do calculations
  • Store
  • coordination
  • muscle strength.

Other diagnostic tests

Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (6)

Computed tomography -CT scan helps the doctor to do a detailed examination of your body. These are more detailed than X-ray exams and can be performed with or without contrast. A special dye is used to create a contrast that helps doctors see internal structures clearly.

MRT -A special dye is also used to help doctors identify tumors. Unlike a CT scan, no radiation is involved and it usually provides even better, more detailed images of the structures in your brain.

Angiography -A dye is injected into the artery, usually in the groin area, which leads to the arteries in the brain. It allows doctors to see the blood supply to the brain. This information is then used at the time of surgery.

Biopsy -During a biopsy, a small part of the tumor is removed. A specialist, also called a neuropathologist, who takes you to a laboratory for further examination. The biopsy helps identify whether the tumor cells are malignant or benign. It also helps determine the source of the cancer, which could be in the brain or elsewhere in the body.

(Video) Secondary Brain Tumors

X-ray– The pressure exerted by the tumors on the skull can cause fractures or fractures in the bones, which can be identified with the help of a certain type of X-ray. X-rays can also show whether calcium deposits are present in a tumor. These deposits may be present in your blood vessels if the tumor has spread to your bones.


Brain tumor (cancer) | Primary, Secondary, Symptoms, Treatment (7)

Brain tumor treatment can vary depending on the type, size, location, and your overall well-being.

Operation -It is the most common treatment, especially for malignant brain tumors. Surgery removes the tumor without damaging the rest of the healthy area of ​​the brain.

While some tumors are easy to find and easy to remove, some are in tricky areas that are extremely difficult for doctors to reach through surgery. Partial extraction of the brain tumor can also be extremely helpful for the patient.

operation risks:

  • Infection
  • bleeding

Some benign tumors are also removed through surgery. Malignant tumors or metastatic tumors are treated taking into account the nature of the original tumor.

radiotherapy and chemotherapyare some other possibilities that can be combined with surgery.

(Video) Brain Metastases: Cause, symptoms and treatment

In addition to these methodsPhysiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapyare also given to patients to help them recover better after surgery.




How is secondary brain cancer treated? ›

Chemotherapy for Metastatic Brain Tumors

Targeted therapy can be administered after surgery or in conjunction with radiation therapy to destroy remaining cancer cells. Targeted therapies used to treat metastatic brain tumors include: Trastuzumab for breast cancer that has spread to the brain.

What is used in treatment of primary and metastatic brain tumor? ›

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill tumor cells. For brain metastases, your treatment may involve one or both of the following radiation therapy methods: Whole-brain radiation. Whole-brain radiation applies radiation to the entire brain in order to kill tumor cells.

Can secondary brain Tumours be cured? ›

Treatment. Secondary cancer can't usually be cured. But treatment can control it for some time and help prevent problems developing. Some people may not be able to have treatment for their cancer because they are too unwell.

What is the best treatment for brain metastases? ›

Metastases are the most common intracranial tumors in adults, accounting for more than one-half of all intracranial tumors. The primary approaches to the treatment of brain metastases include surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT).

How long can you live with secondary brain cancer? ›

Most patients with brain metastases from extracranial primary tumors such as lung or breast cancer receive palliative treatment approaches, because the common pattern of polymetastatic spread may cause compromised performance status (PS) and eventually also limited survival, often in the range of 3–9 months [1].

Why can secondary cancer not be cured? ›

This means the primary tumour has started to grow into nearby areas of the body. It has not spread to other parts of the body. When we say advanced cancer, we usually mean cancer that cannot be cured. This might be because the cancer has spread to another part of the body (secondary cancer).

Does chemo work for brain metastases? ›

Chemotherapy is not usually a treatment for brain metastases because these medicines have a hard time getting into the brain. However, for people with meningitis from cancer, chemotherapy may be injected right into the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

How do you know if a brain tumor is primary or secondary? ›

Tumours that start in the brain and are called primary brain tumours. Cancer that has spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body is called secondary brain cancer or brain metastases.

Can you survive a primary brain tumor? ›

Generally, around 15 out of every 100 people with a cancerous brain tumour will survive for 10 years or more after being diagnosed.

Which brain tumor is not curable? ›

There's no cure for glioblastoma, which is also known as glioblastoma multiforme. Treatments might slow cancer growth and reduce symptoms.

What is end of life care for brain tumor? ›

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness like a brain tumor as well as their families. The focus of palliative care is to provide support and relief from the symptoms and stress that a serious illness can cause.

What is the survival rate of metastatic brain tumor? ›

Results: The median overall survival was 6 months, while 1- and 2-year survival rates were 8.3% and 1.4%, respectively. Median survival was highest with surgery followed by radiotherapy (11 months). Whole-brain radiotherapy (WBRT) significantly improved the survival (P = 0.006).

Can brain metastases go into remission? ›

Treatments for brain metastases can provide several months, and perhaps years, of remission and better quality of life by keeping the brain metastases controlled during those times.

Does Immunotherapy work on brain metastases? ›

Importance Immunotherapy has shown significant control of intracranial metastases in patients with melanoma. However, the association of immunotherapy combined with other cancer treatments and overall survival (OS) of patients with brain metastases, regardless of primary tumor site, is unknown.

Can immunotherapy treat brain metastases? ›

Treatments for melanoma have significantly advanced with the approval of targeted treatments against the BRAF/MEK pathway and immunotherapy in the form of checkpoint inhibitors. Studies have shown the effectiveness of these treatments against brain metastases.

What is worst brain cancer? ›

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer and considered to be advanced by the time of diagnosis,” said Dr. Solmaz Sahebjam, a neuro-oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Currently it is not curable, meaning there's no way to eradicate all cancer cells.

What are the worst types of brain cancer? ›

Glioblastoma, previously known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is one of the most aggressive types of cancer that begin within the brain. Initially, signs and symptoms of glioblastoma are nonspecific. They may include headaches, personality changes, nausea, and symptoms similar to those of a stroke.

How long can you live without treatment if cancer spreads to the brain? ›

Without treatment, the average survival rate is under 6 months . With treatment, that number can increase slightly. Usually those who develop brain metastases farther out from diagnosis have a slightly higher survival rate than those whose lung cancer metastasizes to the brain earlier.

Can chemo get rid of secondary cancer? ›

Chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer can relieve symptoms. It can also control the cancer and improve your quality of life for a time, but it can't cure the disease. For some people treatment can control the cancer for many months or years.

Can chemo shrink secondary tumors? ›

Chemotherapy for secondary liver cancer

For example, secondary liver cancer that has spread from the bowel is treated with different drugs than secondary liver cancer that has spread from the breast. Chemotherapy cannot cure the cancer, but it is often used to: shrink and control the cancer.

Is secondary cancer always stage 4? ›

stage 4 – the cancer has spread from where it started to at least 1 other body organ, also known as "secondary" or "metastatic" cancer.

How many rounds of chemo do you need for a brain tumor? ›

This is called a cycle and each cycle lasts for 28 days. You are likely to have 6–12 cycles of temozolomide, though it may continue for longer.

What drugs are given for brain metastasis? ›

A variety of chemotherapeutic agents have been used to treat brain metastasis from lung, breast, and melanoma, including cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, etoposide, teniposide, mitomycin, irinotecan, vinorelbine, etoposide, ifosfamide, temozolomide, fluorouracil (5FU), and prednisone.

Are brain metastases fatal? ›

Metastatic brain cancer is usually terminal. While some people are able to live longer than others and while a few survive much longer than average, most people have months to live by the time they receive a diagnosis.

What is more common primary or secondary brain tumor? ›

Secondary brain tumors are more common. These cancers start somewhere else in your body and travel to the brain. Lung, breast, kidney, colon, and skin cancers are among the most common cancers that spread to your brain.

How long can you live after brain tumor surgery? ›

The median survival for patients with low-grade tumors may be more than 10 years, and for patients with high-grade tumors, it ranges from 1 to 3 years.

Do primary brain tumors spread? ›

Primary brain tumors are tumors that start in the brain. Examples of tumors that most often originate in the brain include meningioma and glioma. Very rarely, these tumors can break away and spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. More commonly, tumors spread to the brain from other parts of the body.

What are the odds of beating a brain tumor? ›

The average five-year relative survival rate for malignant brain tumors is 35.6 percent, according to the National Brain Tumor Society. This means that 35.6 percent of people who are diagnosed with brain cancer are still alive five years after their tumor is found.

Can you live 20 years with a brain tumor? ›

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain tumor and is brain cancer; However, a small group of patients survive 5, 10, and even 20 years after initial diagnosis.

What happens if a brain tumor Cannot be removed? ›

If the tumour cannot be completely removed, there's a risk it could grow back. In this case it'll be closely monitored using scans or treated with radiotherapy. Read about malignant brain tumour (brain cancer).

What is death from a brain tumor like? ›

Drowsiness or loss of consciousness is one of the most frequently reported symptoms in the final weeks of a brain tumor patient's life. Lethargy, confusion, and night/day reversal are often early signs of decreasing level of consciousness.

What makes a brain tumor inoperable? ›

For a cancerous tumor, even if it cannot be cured, removing it can relieve symptoms from the tumor pressing on the brain. Sometimes, surgery cannot be performed because the tumor is located in a place the surgeon cannot reach or it is near a vital structure. These tumors are called inoperable or unresectable.

Which brain tumor has best prognosis? ›

Survival rates for more common adult brain and spinal cord tumors
Type of Tumor5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Anaplastic oligodendroglioma76%67%
Ependymoma/anaplastic ependymoma92%90%
5 more rows
May 5, 2020

What are the last stage symptoms of brain tumor? ›

What Are the Symptoms of End-Stage Brain Cancer?
  • Frequent headaches.
  • Agitation and delirium.
  • Agonal breathing (gasping breaths that occur when a person is struggling to breathe)
  • Prolonged confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Vision loss.
  • Involuntary movements.

How do you know the end is near with glioblastoma? ›

In the final stages of the disease, the patient's body will begin to shut down. Patients may lose the ability to speak, eat, and move. They may also suffer from seizures, hallucinations, or changes in breathing pattern. The skin may take on a bluish tint, and the patient may become increasingly lethargic.

How long do glioblastoma patients live on hospice? ›

Thirty-seven percent of patients received no hospice care at all before dying. Malignant gliomas include a type of brain tumor called glioblastoma, which is very aggressive. Typically, patients with this type of tumor live for a median of 15 months. Five-year survival is only 5 percent for this form of tumor.

What is the life expectancy of a person with a brain tumor? ›

The 5-year survival rate for people in the United States with a cancerous brain or CNS tumor is almost 36%. The 10-year survival rate is almost 31%. Age is a factor in general survival rates after a cancerous brain or CNS tumor is diagnosed. The 5-year survival rate for people younger than age 15 is about 75%.

What to expect with brain metastases? ›

Brain metastases may form one tumor or many tumors in the brain. As the metastatic brain tumors grow, they create pressure on and change the function of surrounding brain tissue. This causes signs and symptoms, such as headache, personality changes, memory loss and seizures.

What is the prognosis for stage 4 brain tumour? ›

A grade 4 astrocytoma is called a glioblastoma. The average survival time is 12-18 months – only 25% of glioblastoma patients survive more than one year, and only 5% of patients survive more than five years.

Can you survive if cancer spreads to brain? ›

It depends on many factors, including the type of cancer, the number of metastases in the brain and the treatments used. Survival with brain metastases is often measured in months, but some people can survive for several years. Some people may live much longer than expected, while others may die sooner than expected.

What happens when cancer metastasizes to the brain? ›

Brain metastases may form one tumor or many tumors in the brain. As the metastatic brain tumors grow, they create pressure on and change the function of surrounding brain tissue. This causes signs and symptoms, such as headache, personality changes, memory loss and seizures.

Can metastatic brain cancer go into remission? ›

Moreover, radiation therapy for brain metastases can be deferred or even withheld especially when osimertinib is used as first-line treatment, because complete CNS remission can be occasionally achieved as early as one month even in patients with as many as twenty lesions.

What are the signs of brain cancer getting worse? ›

As the cancer progresses it may produce these symptoms:
  • increased sleepiness;
  • decreased ability to move around;
  • trouble speaking or understanding conversation;
  • loss of memory and especially the ability to form new memories;
  • impaired judgment, especially the ability to judge how much help one needs to get around;

How do you know death is near with brain cancer? ›

Cold hands and feet. Breathing changes (such as rapid or shallow breathing, brief pauses between breaths, a rattling sound while breathing) Decreased urination or passing dark-colored urine. Altered perceptions, such as delusions or hallucinations.

When cancer spreads to the brain how long to live without treatment? ›

Without treatment, the average survival rate is under 6 months . With treatment, that number can increase slightly. Usually those who develop brain metastases farther out from diagnosis have a slightly higher survival rate than those whose lung cancer metastasizes to the brain earlier.


1. Metastatic Brain Tumors
(American Brain Tumor Association)
2. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Brain tumors
(Neuroscientifically Challenged)
3. ബ്രെയിന്‍ ട്യൂമര്‍ തിരിച്ചറിയാം ഈ ലക്ഷണങ്ങളിലൂടെ | brain tumor |Dr Jacob Alapatt
(Aster MIMS Hospital)
4. What Are Primary Malignant Brain Tumors?
(Cleveland Clinic)
5. Brain Tumour Causes, Symptoms & Treatment - Q&A with Dr Nicolas Kon | Mount Elizabeth Hospitals
(Mount Elizabeth Hospitals)
6. Secondary Brain Cancer
(Lee Health)
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