An adult brain tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain. There are many types of brain
tumors. The tumors are formed by the abnormal growth of cells and may begin in different parts of the brain. Anyway, the
brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS).
The tumors may be either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer): Benign brain and spinal cord tumors grow and press
on nearby areas of the brain. They rarely spread into other tissues and may come back. Malignant brain and spinal cord
tumors are likely to grow quickly and spread into other brain tissue. When a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the
brain, it may stop that part of the brain from working the way it should. Both benign and malignant brain tumors cause
symptoms and need treatment.
Primary Brain Tumor and Metastatic Brain Tumor
A brain tumor that starts in another part of the body and spreads to the brain is called a metastatic tumor. Tumors that
start in the brain are called primary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the
spine. They rarely spread to other parts of the body. Often, tumors found in the brain have started somewhere else in the
body and spread to one or more parts of the brain. These are called metastatic brain tumors (or brain metastases).
Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors. About half of metastatic brain tumors are from lung
cancer. Other types of cancer that commonly spread to the brain are melanoma and cancer of the breast, colon, kidney,
nasopharynx, and unknown primary site.
Brain Functions and Brain Parts
The brain controls many important body functions. The brain has three major parts: The cerebrum is the largest part of
the brain. It is at the top of the head. The cerebrum controls thinking, learning, problem solving, emotions, speech,
reading, writing, and voluntary movement. The cerebellum is in the lower back of the brain. It controls movement, balance,
and posture. The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is in the lowest part of the brain. The brain stem
controls breathing, heart rate, and the nerves and muscles used to see, hear, walk, talk, and eat.
Brain tumors are named based on the type of cell they formed in and where the tumor first formed in the CNS. The grade
of a tumor may be used to tell the difference between slow-growing and fast-growing types of the tumor. The grade of a
tumor is based on how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and
Tumor Grading System
Grade I (low-grade) — The tumor grows slowly, has cells that look a lot like normal cells, and rarely spreads into nearby
tissues. Grade I brain tumors may be cured if they are completely removed by surgery.
Grade II — The tumor grows slowly, but may spread into nearby tissue and may recur (come back). Some tumors may
become a higher-grade tumor.
Grade III — The tumor grows quickly, is likely to spread into nearby tissue, and the tumor cells look very different from
Grade IV (high-grade) — The tumor grows and spreads very quickly and the cells do not look like normal cells. There may
be areas of dead cells in the tumor. Grade IV tumors usually cannot be cured.
The types of Brain Tumors
Astrocytic Tumors An astrocytic tumor begins in star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes, which help keep nerve cells
healthy. An astrocyte is a type of glial cell. Glial cells sometimes form tumors called gliomas. Astrocytic tumors include (1)
brain stem glioma (usually high grade), (2) pineal astrocytic tumor (any grade), (3) pilocytic astrocytoma (grade I), (4)
diffuse astrocytoma (grade II), (5) anaplastic astrocytoma (grade III), and (6) glioblastoma (grade IV). A brain stem glioma
forms in the brain stem, which is the part of the brain connected to the spinal cord. It is often a high-grade tumor, which
spreads widely through the brain stem and is hard to cure. Brain stem gliomas are rare in adults. A pineal astrocytic tumor
forms in tissue around the pineal gland and may be any grade. The pineal gland is a tiny organ in the brain that makes
melatonin, a hormone that helps control the sleeping and waking cycle. A pilocytic astrocytoma grows slowly in the brain
or spinal cord. It may be in the form of a cyst and rarely spreads into nearby tissues. Pilocytic astrocytomas can often be
cured.A diffuse astrocytoma grows slowly, but often spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look something like
normal cells. In some cases, a diffuse astrocytoma can be cured. It is also called a low-grade diffuse astrocytoma. An
anaplastic astrocytoma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells.
This type of tumor usually cannot be cured. An anaplastic astrocytoma is also called a malignant astrocytoma or high-
grade astrocytoma. And a glioblastoma grows and spreads very quickly. The tumor cells look very different from normal
cells. This type of tumor usually cannot be cured. It is also called glioblastoma multiforme.
Oligodendroglial Tumors An oligodendroglial tumor begins in brain cells called oligodendrocytes, which help keep nerve
cells healthy. An oligodendrocyte is a type of glial cell. Oligodendrocytes sometimes form tumors called
oligodendrogliomas. Grades of oligodendroglial tumors include oligodendroglioma (grade II) and anaplastic
oligodendroglioma (grade III). An oligodendroglioma grows slowly, but often spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells
look something like normal cells. In some cases, an oligodendroglioma can be cured. An anaplastic oligodendroglioma
grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells. This type of tumor usually
cannot be cured.
Mixed Gliomas A mixed glioma is a brain tumor that has two types of tumor cells in it — oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.
This type of mixed tumor is called an oligoastrocytoma. An oligoastrocytoma (grade II) is a slow-growing tumor. The tumor
cells look something like normal cells. In some cases, an oligoastrocytoma can be cured. An anaplastic oligoastrocytoma
(grade III) grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells. This type of
tumor has a worse prognosis than oligoastrocytoma (grade II).
Ependymal Tumors An ependymal tumor usually begins in cells that line the fluid -filled spaces in the brain and around
the spinal cord. An ependymal tumor may also be called an ependymoma. A grade I or II ependymoma grows slowly and
has cells that look something like normal cells. A grade II ependymoma grows in a ventricle (fluid-filled space in the brain)
and its connecting paths or in the spinal cord. In some cases, a grade I or II ependymoma can be cured. An anaplastic
ependymoma (grade III) grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells.
This type of tumor usually has a worse prognosis than a grade I or II ependymoma.
Medulloblastomas A medulloblastoma is a type of embryonal tumor.
Pineal Parenchymal Tumors A pineal parenchymal tumor forms in parenchymal cells or pineocytes, which are the cells
that make up most of the pineal gland. These tumors are different from pineal astrocytic tumors. Pineocytoma (grade II):
Pineal Parenchymal Tumors A pineocytoma is a slow-growing pineal tumor. Pineoblastoma (grade IV): A pineoblastoma is
a rare tumor that is very likely to spread.
Meningeal Tumors A meningeal tumor, also called a meningioma, forms in the meninges (thin layers of tissue that cover
the brain and spinal cord). Types of meningeal tumors include: meningioma (grade I) , meningloma (grade II and III) and
hemangiopericytoma. A grade I meningioma is the most common type of meningeal tumor. A grade I meningioma is a slow-
growing tumor. It forms most often in the dura mater. A grade I meningioma can be cured if it is completely removed by
surgery. Meningioma (grade II and III) grows quickly and is likely to spread within the brain and spinal cord. The tumor
usually cannot be completely removed by surgery.
A hemangiopericytoma is not a meningeal tumor but is treated like a grade II or III meningioma. A hemangiopericytoma
usually forms in the dura mater. The tumor usually cannot be completely removed by surgery.
Germ Cell Tumors A germ cell tumor forms in germ cells, which are the cells that develop into sperm in men or ova (eggs)
in women. There are different types of germ cell tumors. These include germinomas, teratomas, embryonal yolk sac
carcinomas, and choriocarcinomas. Germ cell tumors can be either benign or malignant.
Craniopharyngioma (Grade I) A craniopharyngioma is a rare tumor that usually forms just above the pituitary gland (a
pea-sized organ at the bottom of the brain that controls other glands). Craniopharyngiomas can form from different types
of brain or spinal cord cells. They begin in the center of the brain, just above the back of the nose.
Recurrent Brain Tumors A recurrent brain tumor is a tumor that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. Brain
tumors often recur, sometimes many years after the first tumor. The tumor may recur at the same place in the brain or in
other parts of the central nervous system.
Risk Factors for Brain Tumor
Having certain genetic syndromes may affect the risk of a brain tumor.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that
you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you
may be at risk. There are few known risk factors for brain tumors. The following conditions may increase the risk of certain
types of brain tumors:
Being exposed to vinyl chloride may increase the risk of glioma.
Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), or receiving an organ
transplant may increase the risk of primary CNS lymphoma.
Having certain genetic syndromes may increase the risk brain tumors: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) or 2 (NF2), von
Hippel-Lindau disease, Tuberous sclerosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Turcot syndrome type 1 or 2, and Nevoid basal cell
The cause of most adult brain and spinal cord tumors is unknown.
The symptoms of adult brain tumors are not the same in every person.
The symptoms caused by a primary brain tumor depend on where the tumor begins in the brain, what that part of the
brain controls, and the size of the tumor. Headaches and other symptoms may be caused by brain tumors. Other
conditions, including cancer that has spread to the brain, may cause the same symptoms. Check with your doctor if you
have any of the following problems: Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting, Frequent nausea and
vomiting, Loss of appetite, Vision, hearing, and speech problems, Loss of balance and trouble walking, Weakness,
Unusual sleepiness or change in activity level, Changes in personality, mood, ability to focus, or behavior and Seizures.
"Researchers from Nanjing University shouls that a polysaccharide extracted from a cultivated Cordyceps sinensis fungus
significantly enhanced superoxide dismutase activity of liver, brain and serum as well as glutathione peroxidase activity of
liver and brain in tumor-bearing mice. It also inhibited H22 tumor growth in the mice.
In a study, researchers supplied 22- to 57-year-old cancer patients in stages II-IV with a combination of MD-fraction and
whole maitake powder. They observed cancer regression or significant symptom improvement in 58.3 percent of liver
cancer patients, 68.8 percent of breast cancer patients, and 62.5 percent of lung cancer patients. However, the trial
found a less than10-20 percent improvement for leukemia, stomach cancer, and brain cancer patients."
Further, US patent application 20050276872 claims using Wenguanguo or Xanthoceras sorbifolia to treat cancers
including brain cancer.
Cancer Risk Factors and Causes
A Special Case of Cancer Development
Cancer Prevention Methods
THIS WEBSITE TALKS ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS AND THE POTENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF HERBS, SUPPLEMENTS. However, the information in this
website is for reference only. Please, discuss with your doctor before taking any medicine or supplement. All rights reserved 2011.
Herbal / Dietary Supplements / Foods that may lower the risk of certain types of cancer: Avocados Banana, Bitter
Melon, Brown Seaweed, Capsicum, Cauliflower, Celery, Chlorophyll, Cordyceps, Curcumin, Dandelion, Ellagic acid,
Oldenlandia, Falcarinol, Fenugreek, Feverfew, Fish Oil, Forskolin, Galangal, Garlic, Gotu Kola, Green Tea, Grape Seed
Extract, Honokiol, Orange, Isothiocyanates, Linseed Oil, Limes, Lycopene, Maitake, Milk Thistle, Onion, Peony, Phellinus,
Quercetin, Pterostibene, Pycnogenol, Reishi, Rhubarb, Saffron, Stinging Nettle, Sweet Potatoes, and more. (Please read
the warning section)
Drugs listed in this website for chemotherapy:
Xeloda, Avastin, Herceptin, Tykerb,
Some studies do show the anti-cancer activities of certain herbs and supplements, but most of the studies were done in
test-tube or animals. It is unclear if they are effective in human body. Further, the composition of the products in market are
not necessary the same as those in the studies.
Cancer cells can spread very quickly, while most of the herbs/supplements take long time to see the effects (even though
they are active in our body). Some targeted drug products, including monoclonal antibodies, are cancer cell specific, they
are potent and have less side effects (compared to conventional anti-cancer drugs). Patients must discuss with their
doctors for the right treatment.