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Brain tumours can be primary or secondary. a primary tumour is a tumour that starts in the brain. A secondary brain tumour| is a tumour that has spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body.
This information is about primary tumours in adults, although a lot of the information also applies to children with brain tumours. We have more information about children's cancers|, including specific information about brain tumours in children|.
Primary brain tumours are tumours that start in the brain and have not spread there from somewhere else in the body.
Benign brain tumours remain in the part of the brain where they started, and don’t spread into and destroy other areas of the brain. They don’t spread to other parts of the body.
If a benign brain tumour can be removed successfully it shouldn’t cause any further problems. However, sometimes it‘s difficult to remove the tumour because of its position within the brain, or because the surrounding brain tissue could be damaged by surgery. Some benign tumours will regrow slowly and, if this happens, treatment with radiotherapy| or further surgery| may be needed.
Malignant primary brain tumours are most likely to cause problems by spreading into the normal brain tissue around them, causing pressure and damage to the surrounding areas of the brain. These tumours rarely spread outside the brain to other parts of the body.
A secondary brain tumour| is a cancer that has spread to the brain from another part of the body.
Your doctor will be able to tell you if your brain tumour is a primary or secondary tumour.
Content last reviewed: 1 May 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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