Brain tumors are either benign or malignant and include gliomas, astrocytic and meningeal types, reports WebMD. Gliomas and astrocytic tumors develop from glial cells that support nerve cell health. Meningeal tumors develop in the thin tissues that exist around the brain and spinal cord.
Benign brain tumors grow more slowly than malignant tumors and do not invade surrounding tissue, explains WebMD. Both benign and malignant tumors pose a risk to the surrounding tissue due to inflammation and increased intracranial pressure. Malignant tumors are generally aggressive and invade surrounding tissue, spreading to other brain and central nervous system structures.
The most common symptom of a brain tumor is a headache that does not respond to traditional treatments, according to WebMD. Other symptoms include vision, speech and hearing changes, personality changes, and seizures as well as problems with mental focus, balance, memory and walking. The type and location of the tumor influence the manifestation of symptoms.
Doctors use computed topography or magnetic resonance imaging to view a brain tumor, while an angiogram or magnetic resonance angiogram highlights the tumor's effects on surrounding blood vessels, notes WebMD. Determining if a tumor is benign or malignant requires the collection of a biopsy during surgery or after drilling a hole in the skull to allow for the insertion of a needle to collect a tissue sample.