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Types of Brain Tumors: The 5 Most Common Types

Types of Brain Tumors: The 5 Most Common Types

Surprisingly, there are over 150 different types of brain tumors, with each affecting the brain differently and causing a wide variety of symptoms. Here we talk about the most common ones.

5 Common Types of Brain Tumors

1. Types of Brain Tumors: Astrocytoma

Astrocytomas are one of the most common types of malignant brain tumors. They account for roughly 50% of all tumors found on the spinal cord and brain.

The reason why they’re called astrocytomas is because they develop from star-shaped cells called astrocytes. These are usually found in the cerebrum, or the uppermost part of the brain.

The most common symptom of astrocytomas is having a persistent headache that increases in intensity.

The severity of astrocytomas can vary widely. Some grow slowly, while other forms are more aggressive.

Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, compared to other types of brain tumors, astrocytomas have better survival rates.

2. Types of Brain Tumors: Metastatic

Brain tumors are generally categorized into two main types which are primary and metastatic.

Metastatic tumors, or secondary tumors, are brain tumors that don’t originate from the brain. This means that the person with a metastatic tumor might have a tumor somewhere else in the body, and then it migrated to the brain.

Metastatic tumors are the most common brain tumors in adults. In children, primary brain tumors are more predominant.

The most common forms of cancer that can cause metastatic brain tumors are lung and breast cancer.

Treatment for metastatic brain tumors depends on the size. Larger tumors might warrant a surgery, while smaller tumors can be dealt with using a gamma knife, which destroys specific tissues.

Brain Tumor Symptoms: Everything You Need to Know

3. Types of Brain Tumors: Meningioma

Meningiomas are not brain tumors per se, but they can and do affect the brain. These develop in the meninges, or the membrane that lines the skull and vertebral canal.

Meningiomas can cause problems such as vision and hearing loss, seizures, and even memory loss. However, most meningiomas are benign. Similar to astrocytomas, the most common symptom of a meningioma is a persistent headache.

Treatment for meningiomas usually involve surgery to take out the affected area.

4. Types of Brain Tumors: Glioblastoma

A glioblastoma is the third most common kind of brain tumor and the most common primary brain tumor (starts in the brain) in adults.

The survival time for a glioblastoma is very low, at only about 12-18 months. The survival rate after a year for glioblastomas is about 25%, and only 5% after 5 years. This is due to the fact that glioblastomas grow rapidly and spread quickly to other tissues. This makes treatment difficult, and the prognosis is poor.

The forms of treatment needed for glioblastoma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

5. Types of Brain Tumors: Pituitary Tumors

Pituitary tumors are tumors found in the pituitary gland, located at the bottom of the brain. It is believed that they make up anywhere from 10%-15% of tumors inside the skull.

More often than not, pituitary tumors are pituitary adenomas, which are not cancerous. However, it’s possible for these tumors to cause problems such as producing too much hormones, or compressing nearby structures such as the optic nerves, which may cause blindness.

In contrast, pituitary cancers are very rare. They can also be mistaken for pituitary adenomas, which is why they are usually diagnosed once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Key Takeaways

One thing to know about brain tumors is that they can be difficult to detect early. People usually find out that they have a tumor once symptoms appear, or if it’s accidentally found during an imaging test.

So it would be a good idea to get yearly checks, and to consult your doctor as soon as possible if you feel anything wrong.

Learn more about Brain and Spine Disorders here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Brain tumor – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/brain-tumor/symptoms-causes/syc-20350084, Accessed January 19, 2021

Astrocytoma | The Brain Tumour Charity, https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/brain-tumour-diagnosis-treatment/, Accessed January 19, 2021

Glioblastoma brain tumours | The Brain Tumour Charity, https://www.thebraintumourcharity.org/brain-tumour-diagnosis-treatment/types-of-brain-tumour-adult/glioblastoma/, Accessed January 19, 2021

Brain Tumors – Classifications, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments, https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Brain-Tumors, Accessed January 19, 2021

Types of Brain Cancer: Common, Rare and More Varieties | CTCA, https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/brain-cancer/types, Accessed January 19, 2021

What Are the Most Common Types of Brain Tumors? – Penn Medicine, https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/neuroscience-blog/2018/november/what-are-the-most-common-types-of-brain-tumors, Accessed January 19, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 05
Medically reviewed by Nicole Aliling, M.D.