Brain cancer and spinal cord tumours

Brain cancer and spinal cord tumours

What is brain cancer?

A brain tumour forms when cells grow and divide in an uncontrollable way. When this occurs, the tumour takes up space within the skull and can interfere with the brain’s normal activity.

A tumour may cause damage by increasing pressure in the brain, by shifting the brain and causing it to push against the skull, and/or by invading and damaging nerve and healthy brain tissue.

Brain tumours can be benign or malignant (brain cancer).

Read more about brain cancer.

Brain cancer symptoms

The symptoms of a brain tumour depend on where it is located and if it is causing pressure in the skull. Sometimes, when a tumour grows slowly, symptoms develop gradually or people may not take much notice of them.

Symptoms may be similar to other illnesses, such as a migraine or a stomach bug (e.g. headaches or nausea). Brain tumours may cause weakness or paralysis in parts of the body.

Read more about brain cancer symptoms.

Understanding brain cancer

Understanding brain cancer videos

A brain cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. To assist you in understanding brain cancer, Cancer Council NSW has developed a comprehensive set of 14 videos for people affected by brain cancer.

The video content spans the whole brain cancer journey, from symptoms and diagnosis onwards.

You can view the video modules by clicking here, or order the complete DVD by calling 13 11 20.

Brain cancer statistics

  • Every year about 1400 malignant brain tumours are diagnosed in Australia.
  • The most common type of tumour is glioblastoma multiforme or GBM.
  • About 80 people are diagnosed with other malignant central nervous system (CNS) tumours, including malignant spinal tumours.
  • An estimated 2000 people – including children – are diagnosed with a benign tumour each year.
  • About 100 children are diagnosed with malignant brain tumours each year – this is the second most common cancer in children.
  • About 20 children are diagnosed with a spinal cord tumour.

The aim of this information is to help you understand about brain cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.