"Brain tumor" or "brain cancer" often refers to either a nonmalignant or malignant tumor located within the central nervous system. The CNS includes both the brain and spinal cord.
In adults, tumors that affect the spinal cord are much less common than tumors affecting the brain. As a result, the term "brain tumor" may be used to refer to the whole group of various central nervous system tumors, even if they aren’t located within the actual brain.
There are many different specialists involved in the treatment of brain cancer or spine tumors, including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and/or neuro-oncologists. Often tumors of the brain or spine are the same type or histology. Although tumors of the spine often cause different symptoms from those found in the brain, they are often treated with similar approaches.
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Brain cancer care overview
When discussing tumors of the brain and spinal cord, we typically use the term "nonmalignant" rather than "benign" to describe a noncancerous growth.
Even a slow growing, noninvasive and nonmetastatic cancer located in an area that is difficult for the neurosurgeon to get to safely, or near critical brain or spine structures, can cause symptoms that are certainly not benign for the patient.
The main types of brain tumors and spine tumors can be divided into primary and metastatic tumors:
- Metastatic tumors of the brain and spinal cord are much more common than primary tumors. Metastatic cancers begin outside of the brain and spinal cord. These cancers shed small clusters of tumor cells that can spread to other locations in the body, including the brain and spine, where they begin to grow.
- A primary tumor is one that begins in the brain or spinal cord. They often do not spread or metastasize, even if they grow quickly. The few brain and spine tumors that do metastasize usually spread only within the brain and spinal cord spaces and not to the rest of the body.
There are more than 100 types of primary brain tumors, all of which are rare, some extremely so. Each has its own behavior and treatment. Additionally, in recent years, numerous markers have emerged as important in predicting aggressiveness and responsiveness to treatment, which further subdivides tumor categories.
Why choose us for brain cancer care
Our brain and spine tumor care is a collaborative effort of many specialists from all disciplines. Patients and their families who are fighting brain or spinal cord cancers face challenges different from those of other cancer patients. Recognizing this, we have developed a multidisciplinary team of specialists who approach the care and treatment of each patient and family as unique.
Our focus embraces the whole person.
We recognize that quality of life is critically important and can be affected by many factors including tumor symptoms, treatment side effects, depression and anxiety, as well as the challenges that caregivers and families face.
It is true that life will never be the same after a cancer diagnosis. But that doesn't mean life has to be worse. In fact, many people find their lives can be fuller and richer as a result. This is a reality that we have seen repeated many times and a philosophy that guides our practice. Our goal is to provide leading-edge treatment in a comprehensive care setting to ensure the best outcomes, one person at a time.