The brain is the center of thought, memory, emotion, speech, sensation and motor function. The spinal cord and special nerves in the head called cranial nerves carry and receive messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
There are two types of brain tumors:
Primary – a tumor that starts in the brain. Primary brain tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant.
Metastatic – a tumor caused by cancer elsewhere in the body that spreads to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are always cancerous.
Primary tumors in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to distant organs.
Brain tumors cause damage because as they grow they can interfere with surrounding cells that serve vital roles in our everyday life.
Approximately 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year.
Approximately 170,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor that has spread from another part of the body.
Approximately 25,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a malignant primary brain tumor this year.
An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 americans will be diagnosed with a brain metastasis, (tumor that has spread from another part of the body) this year.
People with brain tumors should discuss treatment options with several cancer specialists, including a neurosurgeon and a radiation oncologist. A radiation oncologist is a doctor who will help you understand the types of radiation therapy available to treat your tumor. Conventional radiation treatment options for brain tumors include external beam radiation therapy.