A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain which can be benign or cancerous. While benign tumors do not spread throughout the brain or body, they can still damage normal brain tissue. Cancerous or malignant tumor cells in the brain can grow quickly and spread throughout brain tissue.

Brain cancer manifests differently in adults than it does in children, often having different cell types and locations and therefore requiring different approaches to treatment. Primary concerns include how quickly the cancer grows and spreads, the location, and whether the cancerous cells can be fully removed or destroyed.

Brain tumors can be divided into two separate categories: primary brain tumors that develop in the brain and metastatic brain tumors that are the result of cancer in other parts of the body, such as the lung. While metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors, they require a different treatment approach.

Some of the most common categories of brain tumors  include:

  • Acoustic neuroma/acoustic schwannoma
  • Gliomas, including astrocytes, oligodendroglioma and ependymoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma

Brain Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

Markey’s brain cancer team provides expert consultation and ongoing care for patients with cancers of the brain.

Using advanced medical and surgical interventions, the brain cancer team provides timely diagnosis and individualized, ongoing care. Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual cases and treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

The future of brain cancer treatment is here at Markey. Patients with brain and spinal cord tumors may benefit from Gamma Knife treatment, a revolutionary method of brain surgery that allows our specialists to operate on the brain without breaking the skin. Surgical oncologists work closely with Kentucky Neuroscience Institute neuro-oncologists, pathologists and radiologists to provide the most advanced treatment for a successful outcome.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 20 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Brain cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Compromised balance and gait
  • Changes in behavior or personality
  • Depression, mood swings or other psychiatric symptoms
  • Difficulty speaking or other changes in speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches that worsen over time
  • Memory problems or memory loss
  • Nausea, dizziness or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Vision changes, particularly blurred vision

Survival rates differ by specific type of brain tumor. The numbers listed below, from the American Cancer Society are relative five-year survival rates, which compare the survival rates of people with a certain type of brain tumor to the overall population over that same five-year span of time. According to the ACS, numbers may differ for those over age 65.

  • Anaplastic astrocytoma — 58 percent (ages 20–44), 29 percent (ages 45–54), 15 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Anaplastic oligodendroglioma — 76 percent (ages 20–44), 67 percent (ages 45–54), 45 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Ependymoma/anaplastic ependymoma — 92 percent (ages 20–44), 90 percent (ages 45–54), 87 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Glioblastoma — 22 percent (ages 20–44), 9 percent (ages 45–54), 6 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Low-grade astrocytoma — 73 percent (ages 20–44), 46 percent (ages 45–54), 26 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Meningioma — 84 percent (ages 20–44), 79 percent (ages 45–54), 74 percent (ages 55–64)
  • Oligodendroglioma — 90 percent (ages 20–44), 82 percent (ages 45–54), 69 percent (ages 55–64)

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.

Brain tumors are not typically linked with any significant risk factors and usually do not have an identifiable cause. However, there are a few factors that can increase risk, including:

  • Radiation exposure. The most widely known environmental risk factor for brain tumors is radiation therapy that was used to treat other conditions, specifically other types of cancer. For example, if you receive radiation as treatment for leukemia during childhood, you may be at higher risk for a brain tumor later in life. However, the risk of avoiding treatment typically outweighs the chances of developing a brain tumor.
  • Family history. In some rare cases, brain tumors run in families. This is often due to familial cancer syndromes, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome and von Recklinghausen’s disease. Most of the time, however, family history does not play a role.
  • Weakened immune system. Having a compromised immune system can increase the risk of developing lymphomas of the brain, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the head, neck and respiratory clinic in the Ben F. Roach Cancer Care Facility. Open Google Maps.
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.  

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. At Markey, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating brain cancer below.

Search Our Ongoing Clinical Trials for Brain Cancer

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.