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About Brain Tumors

The brain is the center of thought, memory, emotion, speech, sensation and motor function. The spinal cord and special nerves in the head called cranial nerves carry and receive messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

There are two general types of brain tumors:

  • Primary - a tumor that starts in the brain. Primary brain tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Primary tumors in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to distant organs.
  • Metastatic - a tumor caused by cancer elsewhere in the body that spreads to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are always cancerous. Brain tumors cause damage because, as they grow, they can interfere with surrounding cells that serve vital roles in our everyday life.

This brochure is designed to address primary brain tumors. For information about radiation treatment for metastatic brain tumors ask your nurse or doctor for the brochure Radiation Therapy for Brain Metastases.

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