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Adult Brain Tumors

The growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Brain tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Adult Brain Tumors

An adult central nervous system tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain and/or spinal cord.

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors. The tumors are formed by the abnormal growth of cells and may begin in different parts of the brain or spinal cord. Together, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS).

The tumors may be either benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer):

When a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from working the way it should. Both benign and malignant brain tumors cause signs and symptoms and need treatment... Read more about Adult Brain Tumors

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Is adding focused radiation (radiosurgery) to whole brain radiation therapy beneficial to patients with brain metastases?

We identified three RCTs that looked at whether adding focused radiation (radiosurgery) to whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) is beneficial to patients with brain metastases. Most of our conclusions are based on the results of one large trial with unclear prejudice and therefore, we cautiously make the following remarks: we found that when radiosurgery is added to WBRT, there was no evidence to suggest that patients lived any longer than if they had WBRT alone, except for patients with only one brain metastasis (who may live longer if they receive the combination treatment). Patients in the combination treatment also seemed to function better in daily life, their treated tumors were associated with having less chance of growing back, and they had to take less steroid medication. The side effects of combined therapy and WBRT alone were similar.

Whole brain radiotherapy for the treatment of multiple brain metastases

Radiotherapy is commonly used to treat patients with cancer that has spread to the brain. The aim of this review was to determine the effectiveness and adverse effects of whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) alone or in combination with other treatments in adult patients with multiple brain metastases. Thirty‐nine trials involving 10,835 participants were included following the update in 2012. There does not appear to be any additional benefit of altered WBRT dose schedules compared to standard doses. The use of chemotherapy or radiosensitizers in conjunction with WBRT has not yet been shown to confer any additional benefit. Radiosurgery boost with WBRT does not improve survival in selected patients with multiple brain metastases but local control may be improved with the addition of radiosurgery boost to WBRT. WBRT when added to radiosurgery improves local and distant brain control but neurocognitive outcomes may be better in patients treated with radiosurgery alone as compared to WBRT and radiosurgery.

Evaluation of the diagnostic performance of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in brain tumors: a systematic review and meta-analysis

OBJECT: The aim of this study was to determine the suitability of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for screening brain tumors, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis of published data on the diagnostic performance of MRS.

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Summaries for consumers

Is adding focused radiation (radiosurgery) to whole brain radiation therapy beneficial to patients with brain metastases?

We identified three RCTs that looked at whether adding focused radiation (radiosurgery) to whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) is beneficial to patients with brain metastases. Most of our conclusions are based on the results of one large trial with unclear prejudice and therefore, we cautiously make the following remarks: we found that when radiosurgery is added to WBRT, there was no evidence to suggest that patients lived any longer than if they had WBRT alone, except for patients with only one brain metastasis (who may live longer if they receive the combination treatment). Patients in the combination treatment also seemed to function better in daily life, their treated tumors were associated with having less chance of growing back, and they had to take less steroid medication. The side effects of combined therapy and WBRT alone were similar.

Whole brain radiotherapy for the treatment of multiple brain metastases

Radiotherapy is commonly used to treat patients with cancer that has spread to the brain. The aim of this review was to determine the effectiveness and adverse effects of whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) alone or in combination with other treatments in adult patients with multiple brain metastases. Thirty‐nine trials involving 10,835 participants were included following the update in 2012. There does not appear to be any additional benefit of altered WBRT dose schedules compared to standard doses. The use of chemotherapy or radiosensitizers in conjunction with WBRT has not yet been shown to confer any additional benefit. Radiosurgery boost with WBRT does not improve survival in selected patients with multiple brain metastases but local control may be improved with the addition of radiosurgery boost to WBRT. WBRT when added to radiosurgery improves local and distant brain control but neurocognitive outcomes may be better in patients treated with radiosurgery alone as compared to WBRT and radiosurgery.

Adult Central Nervous System Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of adult central nervous system tumors.

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Terms to know

Brain
The part of the central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium).
Cancer (Malignant Neoplasm)
A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and can invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body.
Central Nervous System
The brain and spinal cord. Also called CNS.
Spinal Cord
A column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes, and is enclosed within the vertebrae (back bones). The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system, and spinal cord nerves carry most messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Tumor (Neoplasm)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.

More about Adult Brain Tumors

Photo of an adult

Also called: Adult brain tumours

Other terms to know: See all 5
Brain, Cancer (Malignant Neoplasm), Central Nervous System

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