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What is neuro-oncology?

Neuro-oncology is the study and treatment of cancer of the brain and spinal cord. Tumors of the nervous system may occur as primary tumors, meaning they originate in the brain or spine, or they may be secondary or metastatic tumors that begin in another part of the body and spread to the nervous system. At the Endeavor Health Neurosciences Institute’s Advanced Neurosciences Center, we specialize in neuro-oncology. Our team of experts treats a broad spectrum of brain and spinal tumors.

What are brain tumors?

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A brain tumor is a mass that occurs due to the growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Benign tumors tend to grow more slowly and generally don’t spread to other parts of the body. Both types of tumors are serious, and, at the very least, they require monitoring due to their location.  

Although a brain tumor diagnosis can be quite scary, it is far from hopeless. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, our world-renowned surgeons use the most innovative technology and techniques for the highest chance of success, and we’re with you to help guide every step of your care journey.  

Types of brain tumors

Acoustic neuroma

This noncancerous tumor grows on the main nerve from the inner ear to the brain. 


This type of tumor originates in star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes. They’re most commonly found in the brain but can develop within the spinal cord. 

These rare, benign tumors usually form near the pituitary gland.

Epidermoid cysts

Benign bumps that form beneath the skin, these cysts can appear anywhere on the body but are most common on the face, neck, and trunk of the body. 

Intraventricular tumors

Found in the ventricles of the brain, these tumors can be aggressive but are usually benign. 

Olfactory neuroblastoma

These rare cancerous tumors grow on the roof of the nasal cavity deep in the skull. 

Glioma and glioblastoma

Gliomas are brain tumors that originate in the glial cells. 


Most commonly found in the outer curve of the brain, these tumors start in the three layers of tissue that protect your brain and spinal cord. 

Metastatic brain tumors

When cancer cells spread to the brain from a different part of the body, they’re called metastatic brain tumors. 


This rare type of tumor develops in the insulating sheath around your nerves and is usually a slow-growing, benign tumor. 

Spinal cord tumors

These abnormal masses of tissue in or around the spinal cord can be benign or cancerous.

Pineal region tumors

These extremely rare tumors develop near the pineal gland, which is located at the center of the brain. 

Symptoms of brain tumors

Specific symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the tumor’s size and location. Patients with small tumors may not experience any symptoms at first, but as the tumor grows, it affects the surrounding tissue, causing symptoms to develop or worsen. The most common symptoms include:

  • Behavior and personality changes
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Dizziness or difficulty balancing
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Hearing or vision loss or changes
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness, weakness, or paralysis to one or more parts of the body
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Struggling to think or speak normally

Diagnosing a brain tumor

To diagnose a brain tumor, your doctor will perform a physical examination and test your neurological functions, such as balance, hearing, vision, and memory. They will also likely order imaging tests such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), angiogram, or X-ray. 

If a suspicious mass is detected during the imaging process, or if the scan is inconclusive, a biopsy may be performed to rule out other conditions or to determine the tumor type and grade. Whether you have questions about your diagnosis or need a second opinion, we can help. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, our specialists will ensure you have the information you need to determine your next steps.  

Causes of brain tumors

The exact cause of most brain tumors is unknown but is most likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Scientists have identified a few gene mutations that can increase the risk of developing certain types of brain tumors. Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as radiation therapy, may also increase the risk of developing a brain tumor.   

Treatment for brain tumors

The treatment for a brain tumor varies based on size, location, tumor type, and the grade of the tumor. Depending on your specific circumstances, your treatment may include a combination of observation, minimally invasive surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.  

At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, we understand the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors. Our center for neuro-oncology specializes in diagnosing and treating all types of brain tumors quickly and effectively with cutting-edge technology and treatments. We provide comprehensive and personalized care, so you can focus on living a full life. But most importantly, we know this is a journey you may be uneasy about. Rest assured you are in good hands, you are empowered to make your healthcare decisions, and your team is ready for you. 

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