What is a brain tumor?

Brain tumors, which are a group of abnormal cancer cells developing and growing in the brain, can emerge in childhood or adulthood and can affect both males and females. There are different types of tumors that can form in the brain, depending on the cells which have mutated.

Primary brain tumors are tumors that start first in the brain, and are classified by the type of brain cell that makes up the tumor. The most common primary brain tumors are called gliomas. These begin in the glial, or supportive, tissue of the brain. Cancer cells that started growing in another organ, like the lung, breast, skin, or kidney, and then spread to the brain are secondary brain tumors, or metastatic brain tumors.

While there is no clear cause of brain tumors, there are some factors that may put people at higher risk. Individuals exposed to radiation, dangerous chemicals, or those with immune disorders or carrying certain genes may be more likely to develop brain tumors.

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Who is at risk?

Cancerous brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers affecting children. Brain tumors develop most often in children younger than age 10; however, the chance of getting brain or nervous system cancer increases in middle-aged and elderly adults.