What Are the Most Common Types of Brain Tumors?


The phrase “brain tumor” is used to describe any collection of cells that don’t belong in your brain in a specific location or quantity. Whenever cells are able to grow unchecked, not responding to “stop growth” signals from the body, these are perceived as a growth. Any growth that shouldn’t be there, called an abnormal growth or mass, can cause problems. Problems can arise from compression of normal brain tissue and resultant dysfunction of that specific area neurological function. Problems can also arise since there is limited space in your skull, so abnormal growths can cause an increase in the pressure inside your skull (intracranial pressure). This increase in pressure can cause symptoms, brain damage and should be addressed.

There are over 130 different types of brain tumors. Brain tumors are categorized in two ways: benign or malignant and primary or secondary.

What is a Benign Brain Tumor?

A benign brain tumor is an abnormal growth in your brain that is noncancerous. It’s still not something you want on your brain, can still cause symptoms and be a threat to life, but it is not cancerous.

What is a Malignant Brain Tumor?

A malignant brain tumor is an abnormal growth in the brain that is cancerous.

What is a Primary Brain Tumor?

A primary brain tumor is an abnormal growth that starts in your brain. It is an uncontrolled growth of brain cells (neurons or supportive cells).

What is a Secondary Brain Tumor?

A secondary brain tumor develops when cancer from another part of your body spread to your brain and begin to grow. A secondary brain tumor is also called a metastatic brain tumor.

What are the Most Common Brain Tumors?

There are four types of brain tumors that are the most common: metastases (from Lung cancer, Breast Cancer and Melanoma most commonly), meningioma (most commonly benign, arising from the coverings of the brain), glioblastoma (the most aggressive and most common brain tumor, also called astrocytoma grade-IV) and astrocytoma (grades 1-3).

What is a Metastatic Brain Tumor?

As we mentioned above, a metastatic brain tumor is one that develops because cancer from another part of your body spread to your brain. The most common cancers to cause a metastatic brain tumor are lung and breast cancers.

What is a Meningioma Brain Tumor?

Technically, a meningioma brain tumor is not a brain tumor at all, but a growth of the membranes that line your skull and vertebral canal (your spinal column). Called meninges, these membranes enclose your brain and spinal cord. When you develop a meningioma tumor, the abnormal growth may begin to affect your ability to see, hear, remember and may cause seizures. Meningioma tumors are usually benign and slow-growing, so symptoms may take a while to develop. There are aggressive forms of meningiomas, but these are relatively rare.

What is a Glioblastoma Brain Tumor?

Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor, meaning it is the most common brain tumor that starts in your brain. Unfortunately, glioblastoma is also the deadliest primary brain tumor. The average length of survival for a glioblastoma brain tumor is under 24 months, but this varies with patient’s age, as well as different genetic tumor features.

What is an Astrocytoma Brain Tumor?

Astrocytoma brain tumors are the second most common primary brain tumor. Astrocytoma brain tumors start in cells called astrocytes, star-shaped cells in your brain’s cerebrum (the front part of your brain). The severity of astrocytomas range from slow-growing to very aggressive.


Sources: PennMedicine and Healthline