Brain and nervous system cancer

There are few medical conditions as intimidating as brain cancer. If you have a tumor in your brain or spinal cord, you may be struggling to process your diagnosis. You are probably wondering, "Will I need brain surgery?" and "Can I beat the odds?"

At The Christ Hospital Health Network, we know that cancer is scary. And we understand that you (and your loved ones) will need emotional support almost as much as you need a cure.

Our cancer care team has experience diagnosing and treating even the rarest or complex brain and nervous system cancers. We'll help you feel less frightened, while making sure you receive the most effective treatments available.

About brain and nervous system cancer

Your brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. Together they control nearly all our mental and physical functions, from walking and talking to thinking and breathing.

"Brain cancer" and "nervous system cancer" are broad terms. They describe many kinds of cancer (sometimes called tumors) that grow in the brain and spinal cord. In fact, the medical community recognizes about 125 distinct types of brain tumors.

Some brain tumors are malignant (cancerous) and others are benign (not cancerous). When a tumor starts in your brain, it is called a primary brain tumor. If the brain tumor is caused by cancer that starts somewhere else in your body and then spreads to your brain, it's called a metastatic brain tumor.

Primary brain tumors are less common than metastatic brain tumors, but there are many different kinds. Each causes unique symptoms and requires specific treatments.

Primary brain tumors include:

  • Gliomas - the most common kind of primary brain tumor. The three main types of gliomas are astrocytomas, glioblastomas and oligodendrogliomas. They range from very slow growing to rapidly growing cancers.

  • Meningiomas - the second most common brain tumor.  They grow in the "meninges," or tissues lining the brain and spinal cord.  They are usually benign.

  • Acoustic neuromas - also known as vestibular schwannomas, these tumors grow on the main nerve that runs from the inner ear to the brain and are usually benign

  • Pituitary tumors - tumors that grow in or near the pituitary gland, which sits at the base of the brain. This gland releases hormones that help regulate the ovaries, testes, thyroid and other glands. Examples of pituitary tumors include craniopharyngiomas and pituitary adenomas.  They are usually benign.

  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma - a type of cancer that grows in the lymph tissue within the brain or spinal cord.

While primary brain tumors can be malignant or benign, metastatic brain tumors are always malignant. Any kind of cancer can spread to the brain, but certain types of cancer are more likely to do so. These include:
The cause of metastatic brain cancer is usually clear—your existing cancer has spread to your brain. But there are few risk factors linked to primary brain cancer. In most people with a primary brain tumor, there is no known cause. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor as soon as you notice unusual neurological symptoms. These include new or severe headaches, trouble seeing or speaking and clumsiness or balance problems.

Why choose The Christ Hospital Health Network

Whether you have a primary brain tumor, a pituitary tumor is disrupting your hormones, or you are battling breast cancer that has spread to your brain, our cancer care team can help.

Our brain and nervous system cancer program blends the best of modern medicine with warmth, compassion and other qualities that never go out of style.

Our programs and services include:

  • Dedicated team members that focus exclusively on primary brain tumors

  • The most advanced neurosurgical techniques

  • State-of-the-art stereotactic radiosurgery using Edge technology

  • Targeted drug therapies

  • Hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy

  • Clinical trials 

We also offer stand-out support services including nutrition consultations, integrative medicine, financial counseling and referrals to support groups.