Malignant Brain Tumor

What is Malignant Brain Tumor?

Malignant brain tumor is aggressive in nature, originated from the brain and can spread very fast to other parts of the central nervous system. Malignant brain tumor is formed due to abnormal cancerous proliferation of the cells in the brain tissues.

Malignant Brain Tumor

The chance of recurrence is high, though after surgical removal become successful. Malignant brain tumor comes under the high grade tumor, which is denoted in 3 or 4 grade. Malignant brain tumor is also termed as ‘brain cancer, due to its metastasis nature and often associated with life threatening health issues. (1,2)


Depending upon the origin and location, malignant brain tumor is further classified into the following types:

Primary brain tumor

The origin of this type of tumor is in the brain itself and it can spread to other surrounding areas of the brain and can spread to the spine, but in very rare cases it affects other organs.

Metastatic brain tumor

The origin of the tumor usually in another part or organ and due to metastasis this is spread and involve brain tissues. Therefore, this type of tumor is also called as secondary tumor. This type of tumor is more common in contrast with primary brain tumor.

Glioblastomas (GBM)

This type of tumor is originated from astrocytes. Astrocytes are star shaped,  supportive tissue present in the brain and help to linking the neuronal activities. Tumor formation at this site is highly malignant and cell proliferation is more rapid than other brain tumors, as they are surrounded by a large network of blood vessels. Depending upon the rapidity GBM is further classified into:

De-novo tumor

They are rapidly progressive and therefore the presence of the this type of tumor is more reflective and cause major destructive anatomical and physiological event.

Secondary tumor

The rate of growth is slow and delayed symptomatic reflection is achieved. Initially they may be a low grade tumor (benign) and gradually become a high grade (metastatic) tumor. Though, they are slowly progressive, but usually aggressive in nature.

Astrocytes are surrounded in every part of the brain and depending upon the cell involvement, GBM is further classified into:


This type of GBM is growing from cells, which provide the basic framework of the brain.


This type of tumor is originated from the cells that generate the fatty layer of nerve tissues.


This can grow from the cells that form stripes of the cavities present in the brain. (2,4)


The symptoms are differ by location and types of brain tumor. The variety of symptoms is obvious as anatomical structure of the brain is divided depending upon the function and each lobe of the brain controlling different physiological function. Depending upon the location symptomatic manifestations are progressed.

In maximum cases, specific symptoms arise at the advance stage, when the tumor size is large enough to disturb the normal brain functioning. In some cases, the tumor may very slowly progressive and initially no observable symptoms occur and in later stage gradually progression is observed.

Some common brain tumor related symptoms are enlisted below:

  • Chronic headache, which usually does not control by regular measures or therapy
  • Convulsion
  • Faulty body balance or coordinated movement
  • Audibility or vision related disturbances
  • Speech difficulty
  • Memory impairment
  • Disturbed Cognition
  • Changes in personality
  • Tingling sensation in upper and/or lower extremities
  • Weakness in certain body part

All the above mentioned symptoms are quite generalized symptoms, which may develop in the brain or nervous system related problem, so one cannot judge specific symptomatic manifestation. Therefore, any related difficulty should be discussed properly with clinicians and accordingly further medical investigation is very important to understand the onset and progression rate of the malignant brain tumor. (1, 5)


Malignant brain tumor detection and staging is a complicated process and usually need a step by diagnosis process with specialist consultation.

  • Initial diagnosis starts with symptomatic discussion and thorough knowledge of medical history.
  • Physical examination and some neurological tests are performed to rule out the sign of the disease, as no specific symptoms help to estimate the condition. Any suspected outcome of the these tests need further diagnosis to confirm the presence of a brain tumor. The included tests are:
  • CAT scan and MRI imaging tool are used to get the internal images of the brain.
  • Brain angiogram with dye is conducted to get the knowledge of the involvement of the blood vessels.
  • To check the malignancy of the tumor, the biopsy is ordered. A biopsy can be conducted after surgical removal of the tumor, or before surgical intervention, a small needle is drilled in the skull and collect the sample of tissue from the tumor. The collected sample is sent to the laboratory for histological analysis and confirm the tumor is malignant or benign in nature. (1,5)


The different therapeutic approaches are applied to treat the malignant brain tumor. They are:


The first treatment approach for malignant brain tumor is surgical removal of the tumor. The most common surgical technique used for tumor removal is craniotomy. But in every case, surgery is not possible due location of the tumor and even after surgery to control the metastasis, the adjuvant therapy is added.


High intensity radiation is given in a divided manner on the tumor to cease the growth of the malignant cells and also kill them. This therapy has several side effects, as it harm the adjacent non-malignant cells also.


The chemical agents (drugs) are given through oral, injection or implantation, to kill the malignant cells. It may be used along with radiation, after surgery or as customized therapy, depending upon the patient’s condition, doctor’s decision and treatment plan.


The prognosis of the treatment depends upon early detection, stage of the malignancy, age of the patient, patient response and co-morbidity. Usually children with advance stage malignant brain tumor, the survival rate is more than elderly patients. (3)


  1. Brain Tumors in Adults (2014); WebMD Medical Reference; Retrieve from:
  2. Malignant brain tumour (cancerous), (2015); NHS choice; Retrieve from:
  3. Malignant brain tumour – Treatment, (2015); NHS choice; Retrieve from:
  4. Glioblastoma (GBM); Retrieve from:
  5. UNDERSTANDING BRAIN TUMORS; National Brain Tumor Society; Retrieve from:

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