Overview

Mayo Clinic's brain tumor experts provide comprehensive care for more than 5,000 adults and children with common or rare brain tumors each year.

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in or close to your brain, which can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain (secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors).

How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate as well as location of a brain tumor determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.

Mayo Clinic experts have significant experience and expertise treating a wide range of brain tumors, including:

  • Gliomas. These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord. Mayo Clinic experts treat all types of gliomas, including astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
  • Metastases. These are malignant tumors that have spread to the brain from cancers elsewhere in the body.
  • Meningiomas. Meningiomas are tumors that arise from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Most meningiomas are noncancerous.
  • Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas). These are benign tumors that develops on the balance and hearing nerves leading from your inner ear to your brain.
  • Pituitary adenomas. These are mostly benign tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors can affect pituitary hormones with effects throughout the body.
  • Medulloblastomas. These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through spinal fluid. These tumors are less common in adults, but they do occur.
  • PNETs. Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs) are rare, cancerous tumors that start in embryonic (fetal) cells in the brain. They can occur anywhere in the brain.
  • Germ cell tumors. Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors move to other parts of the body, such as the brain.
  • Craniopharyngiomas. These rare, noncancerous tumors start near the brain's pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

Mayo Clinic's world-renowned brain tumor teams include neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurologists, rehabilitation specialists and other professionals who work together to provide exactly the care you need.

Having all of this subspecialized expertise in a single place, focused on you, means that you're not just getting one opinion — your care is discussed among the team, your test results are available quickly, appointments are scheduled in coordination, and the most highly specialized brain tumor experts in the world are all working together to determine what's best for you. What might take months to accomplish elsewhere can typically be done in only a matter of days at Mayo Clinic.

Brain tumor team at Mayo Clinic Brain tumor team at Mayo Clinic

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Mayo Clinic patients have access to the latest imaging and diagnostic tools available, and there's even a long history of Mayo Clinic scientists developing those cutting-edge technologies for patient care. With state-of-the-art research and laboratory facilities, Mayo Clinic experts are constantly seeking new medical knowledge and individual-driven innovations for people with brain tumors, including a variety of clinical trials and other studies of tumor biology, neuropathology and epidemiology that may be available to you.

Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location. If surgery is the most appropriate treatment, you want to be in the hands of experienced surgeons who perform these operations frequently. Neurosurgery is among the most complex of the surgical disciplines. Mayo Clinic neurosurgeons perform more than 1,000 brain tumor surgeries each year using the latest technological advances available to them, including computer-assisted brain surgery, intraoperative MRI, awake brain surgery and lasers.

Mayo Clinic is launching a Proton Beam Therapy Program, opening in summer 2015 in Minnesota and 2016 in Arizona. Unlike most others in the United States, Mayo Clinic's proton beam will feature intensity-modulated proton beam therapy exclusively. This represents an advance over traditional radiotherapy because the radiation beam is targeted only to the tumor, better sparing surrounding healthy tissue from harm.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, recognizing scientific excellence and a multispecialty approach focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. It is one of only four U.S. cancer centers to receive a National Cancer Institute-sponsored Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for brain cancer research. Mayo Clinic is also part of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a group of scientists throughout the U.S. and Canada who work together to conduct clinical trials and reduce the impact of cancer.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, ranks No. 1 for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings; specialists in Minnesota interact very closely with colleagues across Mayo Clinic Health System and in the Arizona and Florida campuses. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, is ranked among the Best Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, is ranked high performing for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic also ranks among the Best Children's Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery.

References
  1. What you need to know about brain tumors. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/brain. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  2. Adult brain tumors treatment (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adultbrain/healthprofessional. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  3. Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  4. Childhood brain and spinal cord tumors treatment overview (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childbrain/healthprofessional. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  5. Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  6. Armstrong TS, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medical therapy by patients with primary brain tumors. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 2008;8:264.
  7. Avastin (prescribing information). South San Francisco, Calif.: Genentech Inc.; 2013. http://www.avastin.com/patient/index.html. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  8. Afinitor (prescribing information). East Hanover, N.J.: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.; 2014. http://www.afinitor.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  9. Temodar (prescribing information). Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co. Inc.; 2013. http://www.temodar.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  10. Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  11. Brain SPOREs. National Cancer Institute. http://trp.cancer.gov/spores/brain.htm. Accessed Oct. 9, 2013.
  12. Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 2, 2013.

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