BENIGN BRAIN TUMOURS... can be just as lethal, and have devastating side effects


Statistics about brain tumours are confusing and it is widely recognised that the incidence of brain tumours is under-recorded.

Generally it is only primary malignant brain tumours which are included in cancer statistics, yet benign brain tumours can be just as lethal and have devastating side effects including personality changes which cause massive family disruption.

Primary brain cancer starts in the brain.

Secondary or Metastatic brain cancer starts somewhere else in the body (often in the breast, lungs, colon, kidney or skin) and moves to the brain, indeed 25% of all cancers spread to the brain.

A brain tumour is classed as benign or low grade (I or II) when

  • The tumour is relatively slow growing             
  • It is less likely to come back if it is completely removed             
  • It is not likely to spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord       
  • It may just need surgery and not radiotherapy or chemotherapy as well
  • Some benign tumours may re-grow at a slow rate and further surgery or radiotherapy may be necessary
  • If the tumour’s position means that surrounding tissue could be damaged by surgery, removal may not be possible

A brain tumour is classed as malignant or high grade (III or IV) when

  • The tumour is life-threatening and relatively fast growing             
  • It is likely to come back after surgery, even if completely removed             
  • It may spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord             
  • It cannot just be treated with surgery and will need radiotherapy or chemotherapy to try to stop it from coming back

 
This summary chart presents a layman’s guide to demonstrate the breadth and complexity of primary brain tumours

  • This information needs to be treated with care, this does not cover all primary brain tumour types and many that generally occur in e.g. adults can also occur in children and vice versa – There are over 120 different types of brain tumours
  • Grading shown is a guide only as grading is not always consistent for a particular type of brain tumour
  • The incidence shown is a rough guide as available statistics are neither up to date nor consistent

Tumour type

Sub-type(s)

General
Grade

Generally
Effects

Incidence
Adults

Incidence
Children

Comments

Glioma

Astrocytoma – focal, cerebellar, low grade, malignant

Varies

Children

 

Cerebellar – 20%
Low grade – 14%
Malignant - 11%

Localised, clear boundary between tumour and normal brain tissue

 

Astrocytoma - diffuse

 

Adult

 

 

No clear boundary between tumour and normal brain tissue

 

Anaplastic astrocytoma

3

Adult

 

 

 

 

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)

4

 

25%

 

 

 

Ependymoma

Varies

Children & Young Adults

5%

9%

Cells appearance does not always fit with behaviour

 

Oligodenroglioma

Varies

Adults

5%

 


Let's Connect
Register now for Wear A Hat Day
Make a donation here
We aim to fund brain tumour research in the same way as leukaemia, breast and other cancers - will you help us?