Primary brain tumours

Types of primary brain tumours

In the UK, about 9,200 people a year are diagnosed with primary brain or central nervous system (CNS) tumours. They can be either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancerous) and there are different types.

Benign brain tumours

Benign tumours usually grow very slowly and may not cause symptoms for a long time. They are very unlikely to spread to other parts of the brain but can cause problems as they grow and press on surrounding tissue. Some may not come back after treatment but others may and will need further treatment. A benign tumour may sometimes change over time to become malignant.

Malignant brain tumours

Malignant brain tumours grow faster than benign tumours. They cause problems by spreading into and damaging surrounding brain tissue. Certain tumours may spread to other parts of the brain or the spinal cord. Malignant brain tumours are more likely to come back after treatment.

Back to Understanding brain tumours

What is a brain tumour?

Brain tumours can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal division of cells. This uncontrolled division of cells then forms a tumour.

The brain and spinal cord

The brain controls the body’s functions. It is made of different parts that fulfill very specific tasks.

How brain tumours are treated

Treatments for brain tumours include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and also drugs to treat symptoms. You may have a combination of treatments.

Secondary brain tumours

Secondary brain tumours happen when cancer cells spread to the brain from a cancer in another part of the body.