following is intended to be only a brief summary of the information
presented from other sites.
Most brain tumours are named for both type of cell from which the tumour originated and the location of the
tumour in the brain.
of cell type
of location name
cerebellum, brain stem, optical nerve
adenoma, blastoma, carcinoma, sarcoma
Often the common name of a brain tumour reflects the cell type from which it arose: "Astrocytoma"
indicates that the tumour originated in astrocytes, star shaped cells that
form part of the supportive tissue of the brain. More information about
the tumour is included if you are told the name "cerebellar
astrocytoma", indicating that it is located in the cerebellum in the
Sometimes a general name is included in the
name of a brain tumour, as in "brain stem glioma". Thus, the tumour
is a glioma which is located in the brain stem. This name does not
give any information about the type of glioma cell from which it arose.
Glioma is a general term for tumours that arise from glial tissues, which
are the supportive tissues of the brain. (Adenomas, usually benign, arise
from a gland. Blastomas are malignant tumours whose cells have undeveloped
or embryonic characteristics. A carcinoma is a malignant tumour that arises
from skin or the lining of digestive, respiratory, or urogenital systems.
Sarcomas are malignant tumours that arise from connective tissue, blood
vessels, or the lymph system.) Brain tumours are usually either gliomas or
blastomas. Often "glioma" or "blastoma" is included in
the name of the tumour.
Certain types of brain tumours are more
likely to occur in children because paediatric brain tumours usually arise
from "young" cells, also known as immature or primitive cells.
Common paediatric brain tumours are medulloblastoma, ependymoma,
brain stem and optical nerve gliomas, and gangliogliomas. However, any
type of brain tumour can occur in children as well as adults.
arise from primitive neuro ectodermal tissue, or PNET. (PNET is a general
term for a collection of many different brain tumours which arise from
undeveloped brain cells.) Medulloblastomas are usually located in the
cerebellum and are fast growing and highly malignant. They frequently
spread, invading other parts of the central nervous system via the spinal
fluid. Medulloblastomas account for the largest percentage of paediatric brain cancers. It is more common in boys than girls; it usually occurs
between the ages of 2 and 6 (only 30% of medulloblastomas occur in
adults); frequently spreads.
Ependymomas arise from
the cells that line the internal surfaces of the brain, thus, they are
gliomas. The tumours arise from "ependyma", cells that line the
fluid spaces of the brain and spinal cord. Ependymomas located in the
cerebral hemispheres occur primarily in children and adolescents. Although
these tumours are capable of malignant behaviour, they are almost always
Astrocytomas arise from
brain cells which form part of the supportive system of the brain, in
particular, cells called "astrocytes" for their star shaped
appearance. This tumour are usually slow growing and many are considered
"curable". Astrocytomas are often cystic, in which case they are
particularly easy to remove completely.
Optical nerve glioma
These are slow
growing tumours which form along the optic nerves. They usually occur
children under the age of 10. The common cell type is pilocytic
Brain stem glioma
located in the brain stem, can be either slow or fast growing. Depending
on the type of supporting tissue from which they arise, they can be either
astrocytomas, anaplastic astrocytomas, glioblastoma multiforme, or a mixed
tumour. In general, brain stem tumours are more common in children than they
are in adults. Surgery is usually not possible in these tumours, and
radiation and chemotherapy must be used instead.
Slow growing tumours
which arise from cells which make the myelin that insulates nerve fibres. They are located in the hemispheres of the brain, especially the
frontal and temporal lobes, and in children are more common in the
growing, rarely malignant. These tumours can be located anywhere in brain,
but are most often found in the temporal lobe. They arise from ganglia (a
ganglion is a group of nerve cells). They occur most frequently in
children and young adults.
congenital tumours. They are usually cystic and found primarily in children
gland is located in the posterior portion of the third ventricle. The most
common tumour of the pineal region is the germinoma. Germinomas (germ cell
tumours) represent over one-third of the tumours in this region. Germinomas
of the pineal region are most common in teen-agers. Additional tumours found in this area include other embryonal type
tumours, teratomas, astrocytomas, pineocytomas, and pineoblastomas.
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