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Brain Tumor Types

Brain Tumor Types

There are two categories of brain tumors, primary brain tumors and secondary (metastatic) brain tumors. And each category includes many different types of brain tumors.

When diagnosed with a brain tumor, the category and type of brain tumor is critical to know, because treatments and prognosis varies.

To learn more, select the brain tumor category below.

Primary Brain Tumors

Primary central nervous system (CNS) tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord.

According to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS), an estimated 84,170 new cases of primary malignant (cancerous) and non-malignant (non-cancerous) brain and other CNS tumors are expected to be diagnosed among adults and children in the U.S. in 2021. This includes an estimated 25,130 primary malignant and 59,040 non-malignant brain and other CNS tumors.

Compared to the annual incidence (number of new cases) of other diseases, primary brain tumors are considered a rare disease. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and Human Services considers a rare disease as a condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. 

There are more than 120 different types of primary brain and CNS tumors. The ABTA provides educational information for the most common primary brain and CNS tumors according to data collected by CBTRUS.

Metastatic Brain Tumors

A secondary brain tumor is most commonly referred to as a metastatic brain tumor. A metastatic brain tumor forms when cancer from another part of the body spreads to the brain. Brain metastasis can present as a single tumor or many tumors and are always designated as cancerous brain tumors.

These cancers start somewhere else in your body and travel to the brain. Lung, breast, kidney, colon, and melanoma (skin) cancers are typically the most common cancers that spread to the brain.

Metastatic brain tumors are the most common type of brain tumors in adults, but account for only about 2% of brain tumors in children.