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About Brain and Spinal Tumors

Our brains serve as the center of thought, memory, emotion, speech, sensation, and motor function, while our spinal cords and cranial nerves carry and receive messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Brain tumors cause damage because as they grow they can interfere with surrounding cells that serve vital roles in our everyday life.




There are two types of brain tumors:

  • Primary — a tumor that starts in the brain. Primary brain tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Primary tumors in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to distant organs.
  • Metastatic — a malignant tumor caused by cancer elsewhere in the body that spreads to the brain.

A spinal tumor is a growth of cells in or surrounding the spinal cord. Primary spinal tumors originating in the spine are rare, and can be malignant or benign. Most spinal tumors have metastasized to the spine from cancers in the breast, lung, colon, prostate, kidney or elsewhere.