The NeuroMedical Center | Patient Education Library | Brain Tumors

Understanding Brain Tumors

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. Some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant), while others are not (benign).  Brain tumors do not discriminate, affecting all ages, genders, and ethnicities.  According to the American Brain Tumor Association, approximately 700,000 Americans are currently living with a brain tumor. 

Types of Brain Tumors

There are many types of brain tumors and they can be classified in different ways. A tumor can be classified by where it originally formed. A tumor that originates in your brain is called a “primary” tumor. A primary tumor can be noncancerous or it can be cancerous.  A tumor that originates in another part of your body and then travels to your brain is called a “metastatic” tumor. Metastatic tumors are always cancerous.

Malignant (Cancerous) Brain Tumors

Malignant tumors are typically rapidly growing and aggressive.

“Primary” Brain Tumors (start in the brain):

  • Glioblastoma Multiforme (grade IV / “high grade”)
  • Anaplastic Astrocytoma or Oligodendroglioma (grade III / “medium grade”)
  • Astrocytoma or Oligodendroglioma (grade II /”low grade”)
  • Ependymoma, Medulloblastoma, Primary CNS Lymphoma

“Secondary” or Metastatic Brain Tumors (spread from elsewhere):

  • Lung Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Also Kidney, Malignant Melanoma or Colon Cancer
  • Rarely If Ever… Prostate, Uterine, Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers

"Benign" (Non-Cancerous) Brain Tumors:

Brain Tumor Causes & Symptoms

What Causes Brain Tumors in Adults?

We don’t know exactly what causes brain tumors, but some of the risk factors that have been identified include:

  • Genetic Factors
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Serious Head Trauma (meningiomas)
  • Chemicals, Pesticide Exposure
  • Very doubtful: Electromagnetic Fields Related to Cell Phone Use

Common Brain Tumor Symptoms

Brain tumor symptoms are based on factors such as the size and location of the tumor.  Be sure to take note of any of the following and bring them to the attention to your doctor:

  • Persistent Headaches (especially if present when awakening)
  • Vision Changes
  • Coordination issues (inability to stand up straight or difficulty using hands)
  • Weakness (especially on one side of the body)
  • Difficulty Speaking or Understanding Speech
  • Unexplained Nausea or Vomiting
  • Seizures

How is a Brain Tumor Diagnosed?

If you have any symptoms that could be caused by a brain tumor, you should seek medical attention.  After a physical examination, your doctor may recommend specialized diagnostic testing to formalize, or rule out, a brain tumor diagnosis.

Imaging Tests

The NeuroMedical Center offers an advanced Imaging Center that offers both CT and MRI studies. These tests can help your doctor distinguish between a brain tumor or other neurological condition such as stroke or multiple sclerosis.  


If your imaging study reveals a concerning mass, your doctor may order a biopsy. A biopsy is a surgical removal of tissue for examination to determine the type of brain tumor you have and what treatment options are best.  In some instances, your neurosurgeon may be able to remove the mass at the same time of the biopsy. 

Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

No two brain tumors are alike, so your treatment plan will depend on a wide range of factors including the tumor’s type, shape, and location to your age and overall health.  Surgery to remove the tumor is usually the first step in treating most brain tumors, and is often the preferred treatment when a tumor can be removed with minimal neurological damage. Neurosurgeons at The NeuroMedical Center specialize in procedures including biopsy, craniotomy, craniectomy, skull base surgery, and shunts to surgically remove brain tumors.  Neurosurgeons including Dr. Gregory L. Fautheree and Dr. Charles R. Bowie specialize in cutting-edge neurointerventional technologies including stereotactic radiosurgery to effectively treat brain tumors without surgery.  In 2015, The NeuroMedical Center’s neurologist/neuro-oncologist, Dr. Jon D. Olson, became one of the nation’s first physicians to prescribe Optune for the management of newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). 

Expert Brain Tumor Evaluation & Treatment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Many people can be cured of brain tumors, but sometimes brain tumors can cause long-term neurological complications. It is not clear what causes them, but getting an early diagnosis from an experienced brain tumor expert is the best way to optimize your outcome. The NeuroMedical Center offers a comprehensive team of brain tumor experts including Baton Rouge’s only board certified neurologist/neuro-oncologist, Dr. Jon D. Olson, an outstanding team of neurosurgeons, and neuroradiologists.  This multi-disciplinary team offers an unparalleled level of knowledge, training, and experience when it comes to evaluating and treating brain tumors and other complex neurological conditions. If you or a loved one suspects or has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, request an appointment or second opinion with The NeuroMedical Center today.