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Brain Tumor

Is a Brain Tumor the Same Thing as Brain Cancer?

Not necessarily. Primary brain cancer originates in cells in the brain and rarely spreads beyond the central nervous system. Secondary (metastatic) cancer may spread to the brain from another part of the body and indicates advanced disease. In such a case, a person is said to have, for example, lung cancer that is metastatic to the brain, which is not the same thing as brain cancer. A brain tumor may be either cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Regardless of whether the tumor is cancerous, it takes up space in the brain and can cause serious symptoms and complications.

Internet Resources

American Brain Tumor Association
This is the home page of an organization that offers excellent resources and support for patients and families dealing with various types of brain tumors in both children and adults. In addition to brain tumor information, the site explains how the brain works and what happens when a brain tumor is found. Choices in treatment and information about specific types of tumors are also provided.

National Brain Tumor Foundation (NBTF)
The NBTF is a national not-for-profit health organization dedicated to providing information and support for brain tumor patients, family members and healthcare professionals. The Web site also includes an interactive brain anatomy page.

Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute
The Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute provides information on the different types of benign tumor, and offers a multidisciplinary approach that involves state-of-the art technologies, a dynamic research program, and a wide range of treatment options in a supportive, compassionate environment.

NINDS Brain and Spinal Tumor Information Page
The National Institute of Neurologic Disease and Stroke (NINDS) provides this resource to give a brief overview of tumors, current research priorities and contact information for a variety of support organizations for both children and adults.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Adult Brain Tumors
Provides information on causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.


  • 100 questions and answers about brain tumors. Stark-Vance V. 2004.
  • Gale encyclopedia of neurological disorders. Chamberlin S., ed. 2005.Available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at  http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library :


  • Meningioma: understanding this usually benign brain tumor. Mayo Clinic Health Letter. 28(7):4-5. July 2010.
  • Understanding brain tumors. Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health after 50. 20(9):1-2. Nov. 2008
  • Surgery and radiotherapy: Complementary tools in the management of benign intracranial tumors. Neurosurgical Focus, 24(5):E2. Johnson WD, 2008.
  • Benign adult brain tumors: An evidence-based medicine review. Progress in Neurological Surgery, 19:80–96. Aghi M, et al. 2006.
  • Benign brain tumors: Sellar/parasellar tumors. Neurologic Clinics, 25(4):1231–1249. Jagannathan J, November 2007.
  • Current concepts in management of meningiomas and schwannomas. Neurologic Clinics, 25(4):1209–1230. Asthagirl AR, November 2007.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the  Health Learning Center  at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 13, 2011