Brain tumors

Types of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can be categorized as primary or secondary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors are tumors that arise from cells originating in the tissue of the brain or skull. Secondary, or metastatic brain tumors, begin as cancer in another part of the body and then spreads to the brain. Secondary brain tumors are more common than primary tumors. The most common tumors that metastasize to the brain are lung tumors, breast tumors, melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and kidney tumors. Primary brain tumors rarely spread to other areas of the body, but they can spread to other parts of the brain and/or to the spinal cord.


For most types of brain tumors, surgical removal is recommended. The location and size of the tumor determines both the pre-operative and post-operative symptoms. Removal of the tumor should be as complete as possible while the neurological function of the surrounding areas should be preserved as much as possible during surgery.

In addition to surgery, radiation therapy has a major role in the treatment of most tumor types, and can increase the cure rate and prolong disease-free survival. Chemotherapy may prolong survival in some tumor types. Gliadel wafers (TM) are sometimes used to apply chemotherapy directly to the resected tumor bed. Other treatments include radiosensitizers, hyperthermia, or interstitial brachytherapy used in conjunction with external-beam radiation therapy.


The prognosis of a primary brain tumor depends on

  • the cell type of the tumor (ranging from least aggressive (benign) to the most aggressive (malignant))
  • the grade of malignancy,  which signifies the rate of growth (ranging from least malignant Grade I  to most malignant Grade IV)
  • the extent of the tumor (size and number)
  • the patient’s age and performance status
  • the duration of symptoms

Some primary brain tumors are curable by surgery alone, and some are curable by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The postoperative size of the tumor is often the most important factor in the prognosis equation.

Why Dr. Maroon at UPMC?

Dr. Maroon and his associates are experts in the delicate surgery required to remove complex brain tumors, and allow for the greatest chance of survival.


Tri-State Neurosurgical Associates-UPMC
Administrative Oakland Office Address:
Presbyterian University Hospital
Department of Neurosurgery
Suite 5C
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone: 1-888-234-4357

© 2013 Tri-State Neurosurgical Associates – UPMC