Brain and Spine Tumors

Brain and Spine Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growths of cells, and they can be detected by your doctor using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Tumors that occur on the brain or spine can be benign or cancerous. Benign tumors are growths that do not usually invade nearby tissue or spread to other areas of the body.

Malignant tumors are cancerous, and they can grow aggressively, by taking the space, blood and nutrients away from healthy cells. They can also spread to other parts of the body.

In general, a benign tumor is less serious than a malignant tumor. But a benign tumor can still cause many problems by pressing on nearby tissues and causing pain, numbness, weakness and immobility.

At UM BWMC, we treat a variety of brain and spinal column tumors, including:

  • Primary brain tumors are tumors that originate in the brain when a cell mutates and multiplies in abnormal ways to form a mass. These tumors can include gliomas (forms on the gluey supportive cells that surround nerve cells on the brain and spinal cord); meningiomas (forms on membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull); and vestibular schwannomas (forms on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain).
  • Metastatic brain tumors are made of cancerous cells from a tumor that originated in a different part of the body. The cells spread to the brain from the other tumor in a process called metastasis.
  • A paraganglioma is a neuroendocrine neoplasm that can develop at the head or neck in the paraganglia, which are bundles of cells of the peripheral nervous system, outside the brain and spinal cord.
  • A hemangioma is a vascular brain tumor that typically develops in the cerebellum, at the back of the brain. It is a noncancerous tumor that’s caused by an excess growth of blood vessels in the brain or spinal cord.
  • Pituitary tumors are mass growths in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain and regulates hormones in the body. Because of the pituitary gland’s location, neurosurgeons work with endocrinologists and ophthalmologists if needed to discuss the best treatment plan. Treatment could entail surgery and surveillance follow-up, or the tumor may be able to be medically treated with prescriptions and surveillance follow-up.
  • A spinal tumor is a growth that develops within the spinal canal or within the bones of the spine. It may be cancerous or noncancerous.

Our team of fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, including Dr. Danny Liang, Medical Director of Neurosurgical Oncology, use the latest techniques to remove tumors on the brain or spine and restore normal function as quick as possible. They understand the impact the diagnosis can have on quality of life, and they provide compassionate, timely care that is personalized specifically to each patient.

If a tumor is cancerous, the neurosurgeon works with the patient's oncologist to develop a long-term plan of care. Patients have access to a full range of cancer services at UM BWMC's Tate Cancer Center, including radiation, chemotherapy, dietitian services, support services and more.

Read our patient success story about a brain tumor removal by Dr. Liang.