Merck Manual

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Some Tumors That Originate in or Near the Brain*

Some Tumors That Originate in or Near the Brain*

Type of Tumor

Origin

Cancer Status

Percentage of All Primary Brain Tumors†

People Affected

Astrocytoma (a type of glioma)

Cells of the tissue that supports nerve cells (glial cells)

Cancerous but how it behaves varies

(†See note.)

Children and adults

Chordoma

Cells of the embryo (embryonic cells) that help form spinal cord and brain stem (which connects the largest part of the brain to the spinal cord)

Cancerous and invasive but spreads slowly

Less than 1%

Children and adults

May be present at birth

Craniopharyngioma

Embryonic cells from the pituitary gland

Noncancerous but slowly invasive

Less than 1%

Children and adults

May be present at birth

Dermoid cysts and epidermoid tumors

Embryonic cells of the skin

Noncancerous

Less than 1%

Children and adults

Dermoid cysts: May be present at birth

Ependymoma

Cells of the tissue that lines the spaces within the brain (ventricles)

Noncancerous or cancerous

About 2–3% (almost 10% of brain tumors in children)‡

Children

Uncommon in adults

Germ cell tumors (including germinomas)

Embryonic cells near the pineal gland

Noncancerous or cancerous

1%

Children

Germinomas: May be present at birth

Glioblastoma (a type of glioma)

Immature glial cells (called progenitor cells)

Cancerous

About 15%, increasing with age†

Adults

Hemangioblastoma

Embryonic cells that develop into blood vessels

Noncancerous

1‒2%

Children and adults

Medulloblastoma

Embryonic cells of the cerebellum

Cancerous

Almost 20% of childhood brain tumors†

Children and, rarely, adults

Meningioma

Cells of the layers of tissue covering the brain (meninges)

Mostly noncancerous but may recur

Recurrences sometimes cancerous

About 35%

Adults

Oligodendroglioma (a type of glioma)

Cells (called oligodendrocytes) that wrap around nerve fibers in the brain, forming the myelin sheath, and the cells from which they originate

Cancerous but slow-growing (ultimately often becoming anaplastic oligodendroglioma)

2–10%†

Children and adults

Pineal gland tumors

Cells of the pineal gland or nearby tissues

Mostly noncancerous but sometimes cancerous

Less than 1%

Children

Pituitary adenoma

Cells of the pituitary gland

Noncancerous

10%

Children and adults

Primitive neuroectodermal tumor

Immature cells lining the spaces within the brain (ventricles)

Usually noncancerous but sometimes becomes cancerous

Less than 1%

Children and young adults

Neurocytoma

Immature cells lining the spaces within the brain

Noncancerous

Less than 1%

Children and young adults

† The percentage of all primary brain tumors is given unless noted otherwise.

‡ Astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastoma multiforme, medulloblastomas, and oligodendrogliomas are gliomas, which account for 65% of all primary brain tumors.