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Top 10 Types of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

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Brain cancer is a very serious cancer diagnosis that no one wants to hear. While there are hundreds of brain and spinal cord tumors, some occur more frequently than others.

According to the BC Cancer Agency, the ten brain cancers below are the most common. However, if you want to learn more about the other types of brain and spinal cord tumors, check out the American Brain Tumor Association's primer.

1. Low Grade Astrocytoma

Low grade astrocytoma is a type of glioma; gliomas are the most common types of primary brain cancer—45 percent of all primary brain cancers. The low grade astrocytomas are 54 percent of gliomas, and are not as aggressive as other forms of brain cancers. Many patients survive ten years or more after diagnosis, though the average survival rate is five to six years.

2. High Grade Astrocytoma

High grade astrocytomas are the most malignant form of astrocytoma. 50 percent of high grade astrocytoma patients survive 12 months after surgery. Out of all gliomas, high grade astrocytomas account for more than 25 percent.

3. Astrocytoma

Astrocytomas in between low grade and high grade account for ten percent of gliomas. Astrocytoma gets its name from the cells it forms on—astrocytes, a type of glial cell.

4. Ependymoma

Ependymoma accounts for six percent of gliomas and 60 percent of spinal cord tumors. Ependymoma forms along the lining of the ventricles in the brain, though it occurs most often in the fourth ventricle. The BC Cancer Agency points out that patients with ependymoma survive for a while after diagnosis.

5. Oligodendrocytoma

Another type of glioma, oligodendrocytomas have a five percent prevalence. Oligodendrocytomas form on the white matter of the cerebral hemisphere of the brain, and symptoms are similar to low grade astrocytoma's symptoms. Patients who are diagnosed with oligodendrocytoma have a survival rate of four to five years.

6. Metastatic from Lung Cancer

A metastasis in the brain, or secondary brain cancer, can occur with lung cancer. A part of the cancer in the lung breaks off and travels up the blood stream to the brain. Metastatic brain cancer from lung cancer makes up 60 percent of all metastatic brain cancers.

7. Metastatic from Breast Cancer

Metastatic brain cancer can also occur with breast cancer. This type of metastasis accounts for 30 percent of metastatic brain cancers.

8. Meningioma

Meningiomas are 19 percent of primary brain tumors, and they are usually benign. Most common in women, meningiomas form on the meninges, which is the fibrous tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord.

9. Pituitary Adenoma

Another benign brain tumor, pituitary adenomas account for ten percent of tumors in the brain. Pituitary adenomas form on the pituitary gland and affect hormone secretion, thus causing hormonal imbalances.

10. Craniopharyngioma

Craniopharyngiomas also form on the pituitary gland, but they do not affect hormone secretion. Also benign, craniopharyngiomas are five percent of primary brain tumors.

Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch received her bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in May 2009. She is the Hartford Women's Health Examiner and she writes about abuse on Suite 101.

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EmpowHER Guest

Gliomas are the most common types of primary tumors which start in the glial cells of the brain. The various types of gliomas are brain stem glioma and astrocytoma. The other types of tumors of the brain that don’t originate in the glial cells are meningioma, medulloblastoma, schwannoma, and germ cell tumor.
Types of Brain Cancer

February 25, 2011 - 5:40am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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