What Are Brain Tumors?

A brain tumor is an abnormal collection of cells in the brain that grows uncontrollably, forming a mass that can be either benign or cancerous. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, nearly 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor today. The most common of these malignant (cancerous) tumors is a glioblastoma.

At Mount Sinai, our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, oncologists, and neurosurgeons has the experience and expertise to treat a wide array of primary brain tumors (tumors that arise in the brain) and secondary brain tumors (ones that start somewhere else in the body and migrate to the brain). We develop individualized treatment based on your personal condition and needs.

Brain tumors produce symptoms such as dizziness, headaches (including migraines), poor sense of balance, overall weakness, seizures (although more common in low-grade gliomas), sensory loss, and changes in vision. We are happy to discuss managing any symptoms with you.

Primary Brain Tumors

Every year, more than 70,000 new cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in the United States.

Primary brain tumors arise within the brain and can be malignant (cancerous) or benign. The most common primary brain tumor is meningioma, a benign tumor that develops slowly in the meninges (the thin layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord). Another other common type of primary brain tumors is a glioblastoma, a highly malignant tumor that is generally found in the cerebral hemisphere. A third common primary tumor is low-grade glioma, which are slow-growing tumors that develop from the support cells in the brain and have a tendency to cause seizures.

Other types of primary brain tumors include:

Secondary Brain Tumors

More than 100,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed a year with a secondary (metastatic) brain tumor. Secondary tumors are growths that start elsewhere in the body that migrate to the brain through the bloodstream.

Common types of cancers that can spread to the brain include:

Secondary brain tumors are becoming more common as novel advancements in chemotherapy prolong life, allowing the tumors to migrate and change.