The division of neuro-oncology treats patients with primary tumors of the brain and central nervous system or with tumors elsewhere in the body that affect the central nervous system, as well as neurological complications arising from cancer treatment.
Symptoms caused by a brain tumor depend on where the tumor is located, which functions are controlled by that area of the brain, and the size of the tumor. Symptoms can include seizures, persistent headaches, nausea and vomiting, memory problems, personality changes, loss of sensation or weakness in extremities, loss of balance, fatigue, and problems with vision or speech. Onset of symptoms may be rapid or gradual.
If a tumor is located in the spinal cord, symptoms might include back pain, problems with bowels or urinary function, and weakness of the legs.
There are many types of tumors that can affect the brain and central nervous system, with differing symptoms, prognoses and treatment plans. Some of the types of tumors are:
Gliomas, which are malignant tumors of the brain's supportive tissue (glial cells). Astrocytomas, glioblastomas, oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas are all types of gliomas.
Meningiomas, which are tumors of the protective lining of the brain cavity that can occur in the spinal cord or brain. Meningiomas infrequently become malignant.
Tumors that metastisize to the brain via the bloodstream from cancer in other parts of the body. Always malignant, this type of tumor is most commonly seen in patients with lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, melanoma or lymphoma.
Cancer that spreads to the leptomeninges (the two innermost membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) from systemic cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, lung, breast and gastrointestinal cancer.
Benign, non-cancerous, brain and spinal tumors, including: schwannoma (also known as a vestibular or acoustic neuroma), a benign tumor of the hearing nerve; chordoma, a benign tumor that forms at either the base of the skull or the end of the spine; and pituitary adenoma, a benign, slow-growing tumor arising from the pituitary gland.