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Brain Cancer Tumor Types

In the following there is a list of the more common brain cancer tumor types, both in the central nervous system as well as in the spinal cord. It shows that the more common brain tumors are glioblastoma and astrocytoma, all of which are based on histology investigation of biopsy samples.

The following tables of frequency of occurrence are based on data from Ref.1 and 2 where neurosurgeons operated on patients with various brain tumors and sent the surgical samples for histological analysis to the pathologist. The percentages relate to how often a particular brain or spinal cord tumor cancer type was found among all of the brain or spinal cord cancers.

Brain tumors

Glioblastoma multiforme : 30%

Astrocytoma : 20%

Other gliomas (oligodendroma, ependymoma) : 5%

Meningioma : 20%

Schwannoma (acoustic neuromas) : 10%

Pituitary : 5%

Other tumors : 10%


Spinal cord tumors

Schwannoma : 25%

Meningioma : 35%

Ependymoma : 15%

Astrocytoma : 10%

Other Tumors : 15%

 Brain Cancer Tumor Types

Brain Cancer Tumor Types

Some of these are benign tumors such as acoustic neuroma (image shown here), which is a schwannomaand is a benign tumor (not cancerous). However, as there is only so much space within the human skull, these tumors become a danger to the person who has it. The increased intracranial pressure threatens the survival of the surrounding healthy brain tissue. For this reason even a benign brain tumor can become an emergency that requires surgery.



1. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology. 4th edition. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott, Philadelphia,PA, 1993. Chapter on brain cancer.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 2. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Chapter on brain cancer.

3. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

4. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: October 16, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.