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Heidi's Story - Neurosurgery at Parker Adventist Hospital
Brain tumors can be classified as
- Primary (originating in the brain tissue itself).
- Secondary (Metastatic - cancer cells from other parts of the body spread to the brain). Secondary brain tumors are more common than Primary.
They can also be classified as
- Malignant (cancerous brain tumor).
- Nonmalignant (benign brain tumor).
The degree of malignancy is often referred to by its histology grade (cell appearance under a microscope). The grading system is from I to IV.
- Grade I: Brain tumors are benign. The cells look nearly like normal brain cells and they grow slowly.
- Grade II: The tissue is malignant. The cells look less like normal cells than the cells in a Grade I tumor.
- Grade III: The malignant tissue has cells that look very different from normal cells. The abnormal cells are actively growing.
- Grade IV: The malignant tissue has cells that look abnormal and tend to grow quickly.
Grade II to IV brain tumors have increasing degrees of malignant characteristic and behavior. Malignant brain tumors contain cancerous cells. High-grade malignant brain tumors (Grade III-IV) grow rapidly and invade healthy tissue around them. These brain tumors eventually crowd out or destroy the normal cells and interfere with their function. These can be life threatening. Low grade tumors (Grade I to II) grow slowly over time.
Nonmalignant (benign) brain tumors do not contain cancer cells and do not spread. However they can be located in vital or sensitive area of the brain and interfere with normal brain activity and critical functions. Common benign brain tumors include the meningiomas, schwannomas and pituitary adenomas.