A brain tumour or neoplasm occurs when abnormal brain cells start to grow without any control. If these cells are identical to those which form normal brain tissue, then they behave less aggressively and are known as benign tumours. And when the abnormal cells have lost, to a greater or lesser extent, their ability to perform their functions correctly then they are called malignant tumours (cancer). In this respect they are fast-growing cells that invade neighbouring areas and may even spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).
Differences between a brain tumour and a head tumour
There are three large groups of tumours that affect the skull and its adjacent structures:
tumours that form in nervous system tissues;
tumours that form in tissues enveloping the nervous system in the skull; and
tumours that originally form in other parts of the body and reach the brain through metastasis.
How many people are affected by Brain Tumour?
Brain tumours represent around 2% of all deaths caused by cancer. In Spain, 8.8 men and 6.4 women per 100,000 inhabitants will develop a brain tumour. The age of maximum incidence varies according to the type of brain tumour. Benign tumours are more common in younger patients, whereas malignant tumours are more frequent in patients aged over 60 years.
Type of Brain Tumour
Based on where they originate, brain tumours are classified into two types:
Tumours arising due to the excessive/rapid growth of nervous tissue cells. This group is further categorised into neuronal tumours and glial tumours.
Tumours originating in the structures enveloping the brain. This group primarily includes meningeal, nerve sheath and vascular tumours.
Tumour aggressiveness is categorised as follows in function of the tumour’s capacity for local growth and ability to reproduce itself even after treatment:
▪ High. These are fast-growing tumours. Despite the application of all treatments available they have a high capacity for recurrence and local growth.
▪ Low. These are slow-growing tumours that, depending on their grade, can be cured or controlled in the medium term.