Brain tumours

Tumours are essentially classified as benign or malignant. We determine the nature of the tumour using precise diagnostic procedures, which include, among others, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). As well as primary brain tumours, which develop from the cells of the brain or the meninges, metastases can also develop in the brain which occur as spread of tumours in other organs.

15 to 25 per cent of the tumours that occur inside the skull are known as meningiomas. These are usually benign tissue changes that develop in the meninges. They commonly grow very slowly and occur from around the age of 40 onwards. This form of tumour can also develop in the spinal cord (see spine/tumours).

Gliomas are also among the more common forms of tumour. They develop in the glial cells, which form the protective and supportive tissue of the nervous system. Unlike meningiomas, these tumours can also grow rapidly. These gliomas are classified into two sub-types: astrocytomas and glioblastomas.

Neuromas can form in Schwann cells, which encapsulate the nerve fibres. These benign tumours do not form metastases and occur not only in the skull, but often also in the hearing system (acoustic neuroma).

Adenomas can develop on the pituitary gland, or the so-called hypophysis. These tumours are also benign, however they do produce hormones in some cases.

Symptoms

The symptoms of brain tumours are not easily detected and depend on a number of things, including the location of the tumour. In the early stages, patients often do not experience any symptoms at all. The more the tumour grows, however, the more marked the symptoms become.

The first sign is often headaches, which get worse over time. As the tumour progresses, epileptic fits, dizziness, nausea and speech, visual and movement problems can occur, too. Many patients also experience psychological changes. These include forgetfulness, increased irritability or mood fluctuations.

Neuromas typically manifest themselves with balance problems and, in the case of acoustic neuromas, reduced hearing that can even progress to deafness.

Treatment

As well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy for malignant tumours and the personalised treatment of symptoms, we usually remove tissue changes with microsurgery.