What is a Brain Tumor?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2016
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A brain tumor is an area of abnormal cell growth in the brain. These tumors are also called neoplasms, and there are a number of types of brain tumors which are classified by the region in which they appear and their size. Many neoplasms are malignant, which means that they require some form of medical attention. It important to seek treatment for neurological irregularities at an early stage, as brain tumors and other neurological conditions will only grow worse if they are not addressed.

Tumors are caused by uncontrolled cell division, which causes a swelling to appear. Some tumors are caused by genetic defects which lead to tumor formation, while others develop in response to environmental exposure, or as a result of a random mutation acquired during cell duplication at the site. All it takes is one cell gone awry for a tumor to form, as this cell will duplicate itself without stopping, causing a tumor to emerge. In the close quarters of the skull, this can become a serious problem very quickly.

The brain itself can develop a tumor, as can the cranial nerves, and the glands in the skull. If a malignant tumor is present elsewhere in the body, it can also metastasize to the brain, causing a neoplasm to develop. Once the tumor gets large enough, symptoms will start to appear, leading a doctor to recommend medical testing which can be used to diagnose and identify the tumor.


Neurological symptoms like dizziness, difficulty balancing, blurred vision, personality changes, confusion, memory loss, lack of muscle control, and slurred speech often characterize brain tumors. In severe cases, seizures and other dangerous symptoms may develop. These symptoms are caused by the pressure on the brain exerted by the tumor. If the tumor is allowed to get particularly large, it may obstruct the blood supply to the region of the brain where it is located, causing cell death and permanent damage.

Medical imaging studies like MRIs can be used to identify the presence of a tumor. However, the tumor can only be confirmed with the examination of a tissue sample from the brain. Once a brain tumor is identified and graded, a doctor can discuss treatment approaches and develop a treatment plan. Excision of the tumor is often recommended, unless the tumor is in an inoperable location, and the use of chemotherapy, radiation, and other techniques may be used in an attempt to kill the tumor and to prevent a recurrence.


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Post 5

I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I am here to learn. I have the dizziness and the off balance along with muscle aches. Does that mean it's serious? I'm new to all of this.

Post 4

I have heard stories that brain tumors are incredibly complex and hard to operate on and that is why they rarely operate on benign tumors and they choose to shrink them with lasers.

When an operation is required to completely remove a tumor from the brain it is an incredibly complex procedure and can take several hours in order to accomplish successfully.

I know someone that had to have surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor and their surgery lasted for over ten hours and required three months of preparation. They said that this was not much time to prepare, and it was actually fast, due to the severity of the tumor.

I think that anytime whether benign or malignant

a brain tumor is something that is serious and requires a lot of time and thought in order to correct the situation. The brain is the body's computer and a tumor, no matter how serious, is a severe matter that should require anyone's attention.
Post 3

@jmc88 - I have an uncle that had a benign brain tumor right behind his ear and although they said that it was not a serious problem, such as it being cancerous, it was something that required immediate attention.

Because it was a benign tumor on the brain they told him that is was way too dangerous to operate and that the best course of action was to shrink it with lasers. It was quite an ordeal and a complex procedure, as they had to shoot hundreds of lasers into a small tumor to shrink it and the calculations involved needed a psychicist.

He was completely fine afterwards, but it was a complex procedure and they said that he could sustain long term problems and even suffer a potential stroke if he were continue to not have the tumor taken care of. This was due to his fits of passing out.

Post 2

@JimmyT - the popular misconception about benign tumors are that they do not cause any problems, this is not at all the truth.

Although benign tumors are not cancerous they can cause many neurological problems and considering the brain is the epicenter of all activity of the body it is something that is serious, but not life threatening.

Short term problems that can happen from a benign brain tumor is severe headaches and proneness to passing out. Long term effects could be permanent neurological damage that will force a possible operation, which is not at all simple when it involves the brain. There can also be connections to depression and other psychological disorders, although these are very tough to gauge.

Post 1

I have always wondered about brain tumors whether they be malignant or benign. I know that malignant tumors are something of major concern and that they could be cancerous, but how serious are benign tumors in the brain?

I know that benign tumors are simply kind of annoying things that cause minor problems, but I would think that if they were brain tumors they would cause some sort of problem and wonder how serious medical attention is to controlling them.

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