A benign (non-cancerous)brain tumour is a mass of cells that grows relatively slowly in the brain.
Non-cancerous brain tumours tend to stay in one place and do not spread. It will not usually come backif all of the tumour can be safely removed during surgery.
If the tumour cannot be completely removed, there's a risk it could grow back. In this case it'll be closely monitored using scans or treated with radiotherapy.
Read about malignant brain tumour (brain cancer).
Types andgrades of non-cancerous brain tumour
There are many different types of non-cancerous brain tumours, which are related to thetype of brain cells affected.
- gliomas– tumours of the glial tissue, which hold and support nerve cells and fibres
- meningiomas – tumours of the membranes that cover the brain
- acoustic neuromas –tumours of the acoustic nerve (also known as vestibular schwannomas)
- craniopharyngiomas – tumours near the base of the brainthat are most often diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults
- haemangioblastomas – tumours of the brain's blood vessels
- pituitary adenomas –tumours of the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland on the under surface of the brain
The Cancer Research UK website has more information about the different types of brain tumours.
Brain tumours are graded from 1 to 4 according to how fast they grow and spread, and how likely they are to grow back after treatment.
Non-cancerous brain tumours are grades 1 or 2 because they tend to be slow growing and unlikely to spread.
Theyare not cancerous and can often be successfully treated, but they're still serious and can be life threatening.
Symptoms of non-cancerous brain tumours
The symptoms of a non-cancerous brain tumour depend on how big it is and where it is in the brain. Some slow-growing tumours may not cause any symptoms at first.
Common symptoms include:
When to see a GP
See a GP if you have symptoms of a brain tumour. While it's unlikely to be a tumour, these symptoms need to be assessed by a doctor.
The GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms. They may also test your nervous system.
If the GP thinks you may have a brain tumour, or they're not sure what's causing your symptoms, they'll refer you to a brain and nerve specialist called a neurologist.
Causes of non-cancerous brain tumours
The cause ofmost non-cancerous brain tumours is unknown, but you're more likely to develop one if:
- you're over the age of 50
- you have a family history of brain tumours
- you have a genetic condition that increasesyour risk of developing a non-cancerous brain tumour– such as neurofibromatosis type 1, neurofibromatosis type 2, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome, Li-Fraumeni cancer syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, and Gorlin syndrome
- you've had radiotherapy
Treating non-cancerous brain tumours
Treatment for a non-cancerous brain tumourdepends on the type and location of the tumour.
Surgery is used to remove most non-cancerous brain tumours, and they do not usually come back after being removed. But sometimes tumours do grow back or become cancerous.
If all of the tumour cannot be removed, other treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, may be needed to control the growth of the remaining abnormal cells.
Recovering from treatment for a non-cancerous brain tumour
After treatment, you may have persistent problems, such as seizures and difficulties with speech andwalking. You may need supportive treatment to help you recover from, or adapt to, these problems.
Many people are eventually able to resume their normal activities, including work andsport, but it can take time.
You may find it useful to speak to a counsellor if you want to talk about the emotional aspects of your diagnosis and treatment.
Video: benign brain tumour - Debbie's story
In this video, Debbie describes her diagnosis and treatment for a benign brain tumour.
Media last reviewed: 2 March 2021
Media review due: 2 March 2024
Page last reviewed: 21 April 2020
Next review due: 21 April 2023
A benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour is a mass of cells that grows relatively slowly in the brain. Non-cancerous brain tumours tend to stay in one place and do not spread. It will not usually come back if all of the tumour can be safely removed during surgery.Should I worry about a benign brain tumor? ›
Benign tumors can still be dangerous. They can damage and compress parts of the brain, causing severe dysfunction. Benign brain tumors located in a vital area of the brain can be life-threatening. Very rarely, a benign tumor can become malignant.What is the survival rate of a non cancerous brain tumor? ›
For noncancerous meningioma, the 5-year relative survival rate is almost 97% for children ages 14 and under, 97% in people ages 15 to 39, and over 87% in adults 40 and older.How long can you live with a benign brain tumor? ›
The hospital consultant treating you will help you to understand your treatment options and what outcome to expect. Generally, in Northern Ireland, about for those with benign brain tumours 87 in every 100 will survive for five years or more after being diagnosed.Is non cancerous brain tumor curable? ›
Benign (non-cancerous) brain tumours can usually be successfully removed with surgery and do not usually grow back. It often depends on whether the surgeon is able to safely remove all of the tumour. If there's some left, it can either be monitored with scans or treated with radiotherapy.Can benign brain tumors go away on their own? ›
In many cases, benign tumors need no treatment. Doctors may simply use "watchful waiting" to make sure they cause no problems. But treatment may be needed if symptoms are a problem. Surgery is a common type of treatment for benign tumors.What problems can a benign brain tumor cause? ›
Common symptoms of benign brain tumors
Women with meningiomas often have headaches first thing in the morning. Some patients report that these headaches wake them from sleep. Meningiomas can also cause seizures. Any adult who has a new onset of severe headaches should see their primary care physician.
MRI is very good at zeroing in on some kinds of cancers. By looking at your body with MRI, doctors may be able to see if a tumor is benign or cancerous.Can you live with a benign brain tumor? ›
Non-cancerous brain tumours are grades 1 or 2 because they tend to be slow growing and unlikely to spread. They are not cancerous and can often be successfully treated, but they're still serious and can be life threatening.What happens if you have a non cancerous brain tumor? ›
A noncancerous brain tumor is an unexpected cluster of abnormal cells in your brain. Most grow slowly. They can't spread to other parts of your body the way cancerous tumors do. But they can grow large enough to cause symptoms.
Most patients are able to resume normal activity levels and return to work in six to 12 weeks.Can you live 20 years with brain tumor? ›
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain tumor and is brain cancer; However, a small group of patients survive 5, 10, and even 20 years after initial diagnosis.What is the 10 year survival rate for a benign brain tumor? ›
The 10-year survival rate is over 30%. The survival rates for a brain tumor vary based on several factors. These include the grade and prognostic factors of a tumor, a person's age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works.How do they remove a benign brain tumor? ›
Brain surgery that involves removing part of the skull is called craniotomy. It's the way most brain tumor removal operations are done. Craniotomy is used for treating cancerous brain tumors and benign brain tumors. The surgeon makes a cut in your scalp.What is a Stage 1 benign brain tumor? ›
Grade 1 and 2 tumours are low grade, slow growing, relatively contained and unlikely to spread to other parts of the brain. There is also less chance of them returning if they can be completely removed. They are sometimes still referred to as 'benign brain tumours'.How common is a non cancerous brain tumor? ›
A brain tumor diagnosis can sound like a life-threatening situation. But although the symptoms of most brain tumors are the same, not all tumors are malignant. In fact, meningioma is the most common brain tumor, accounting for about 30 percent of them. Meningioma tumors are often benign: You may not even need surgery.Do benign tumors need to be removed? ›
While many benign tumors do not need treatment, some do, especially if they are causing symptoms. Usually if a benign tumor requires treatment, we remove it surgically. Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive techniques, which require small incisions and have minimal recovery time.What causes benign tumors to grow? ›
The exact cause of a benign tumor is often unknown. It develops when cells in the body divide and grow at an excessive rate. Typically, the body is able to balance cell growth and division. When old or damaged cells die, they are automatically replaced with new, healthy cells.Why do benign brain tumors need to be removed? ›
Even if a brain tumor is benign and growing slowly, eventually the brain won't be able to tolerate that, and symptoms will develop, which can be life-threatening.” Most benign tumors are treated with surgery, focused radiation or a combination of the two.What is the most common benign brain tumor? ›
Meningiomas are the most common benign intracranial tumors, comprising 10 to 15 percent of all brain neoplasms, although a very small percentage are malignant. These tumors originate from the meninges, the membrane-like structures that surround the brain and spinal cord.
Headaches are the most common symptom of brain tumors. Headaches happen in about half of people with brain tumors. Headaches can happen if a growing brain tumor presses on healthy cells around it. Or a brain tumor can cause swelling in the brain that increases pressure in the head and leads to a headache.What percentage of brain tumors are benign? ›
And an estimated 90,000 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2022. Here's a breakdown that may surprise many: About 71 percent of all brain tumors are benign and about 29 percent are malignant.Can doctors tell if a tumor is benign without a biopsy? ›
Blood tests, a biopsy, or imaging—like an X-ray—can determine if the tumor is benign or malignant.Does benign tumors need chemotherapy? ›
When a benign tumor requires treatment, it isn't too different from the treatment of a malignant or cancerous tumor. It may be radiation therapy, radiosurgery for benign tumors located in the skull base, surgery or chemotherapy.Do you see an oncologist for benign tumors? ›
Even benign tumors can be uncomfortable. If you feel or see a lump, visit an oncologist for an examination. If the doctor confirms that you have a malignant tumor, you will likely feel some uncertainty and fear. However, you can have peace of mind that the doctor will develop an effective treatment plan.How can a doctor tell if a brain tumor is benign? ›
If you have brain tumor symptoms, your doctor may start with a neurological exam. You also may need an imaging test such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Often, a biopsy (taking a small sample of the tumor) is the only way to tell if a tumor is benign or malignant (cancerous).What is the least serious brain tumor? ›
Neurofibroma. Neurofibromas are benign, generally painless tumors that can grow on nerves anywhere in the body. In some cases, these soft, fleshy growths develop in the brain, on cranial nerves or on the spinal cord. Multiple neurofibromas are a symptom of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).How fast do benign tumors grow? ›
Benign means it is not cancer. Benign tumours: usually grow quite slowly. don't spread to other parts of the body.Can you live a full life with a benign meningioma? ›
Benign Meningioma Life Expectancy
The cells in benign meningiomas look somewhat similar to normal cells and the tumors are usually encapsulated. Benign meningiomas are often treated with surgery, with a low recurrence rate. Fortunately, the 5-year survival rate for patients with benign meningiomas is over 95%.
Some people recover well after brain surgery, but this can take some time. Other people have some problems, or long term difficulties. The problems you may have depends on the area of the brain where the tumour was (or still is if you only had part of the tumour removed).
Glioblastoma (GBM) is one of the most complex, deadly, and treatment-resistant cancers. More than 14,490 Americans are expected to receive a GBM diagnosis in 2023. GBM accounts for 50.1 percent of all primary malignant brain tumors.What is the lifetime chance of a brain tumor? ›
Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in their lifetime is less than 1%.What is the survival rate for a brain biopsy? ›
Brain Biopsy: Survival
The 30- and 180-day survival rates for brain biopsies were 100% and 82%, respectively, for 2021.
Meningiomas tend to grow slowly and inward. Often, they'll have grown quite large before they're diagnosed. Even benign meningiomas can grow large enough to be life-threatening if they compress and affect nearby areas of your brain.How serious is brain tumor removal? ›
Surgery on the brain or spinal cord is a serious operation, and surgeons are very careful to try to limit any problems either during or after surgery. Complications during or after any type of surgery can include bleeding, infections, or reactions to anesthesia, although these are not common.What is the success rate of benign brain tumor operation? ›
The surgical removal by and large is the most effective treatment of brain tumor. With early treatment, more than 85% of patients survive for 5 years. The chances of survival are dropped to 40 % in case of late-stage cancers, when the tumor is large and cannot be removed surgically.Can an MRI tell if a meningioma is benign? ›
MRI has a promising role in predicting meningioma grade which can directly impact future management protocols. Hyperostosis of the adjacent skull was the only significant CT feature in benign meningiomas. MRI has an 79% specificity and 92% negative predictive value in detecting meningioma brain invasion.How common is a benign brain tumor? ›
Meningiomas are the most common benign intracranial tumors, comprising 10 to 15 percent of all brain neoplasms, although a very small percentage are malignant. These tumors originate from the meninges, the membrane-like structures that surround the brain and spinal cord.How likely is it for a benign tumor to become malignant? ›
Adenomas are benign tumors that develop in organs and glands. A polyp is a common one found in the colon. Less than 1 out of 10 become malignant.How long does it take for a benign brain tumor to grow? ›
The more aggressive a tumor is, the faster it grows. Generally speaking, a brain tumor can take several months or even years to develop.
The 5-year relative survival rate for people younger than age 15 is about 75%. For people age 15 to 39, the 5-year relative survival rate nears 72%. The 5-year relative survival rate for people age 40 and older is 21%. Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for a brain tumor every 5 years.What happens if you don't remove a benign tumor? ›
“Most benign tumors aren't life-threatening. They can be left alone as they are unlikely to cause damage to any other areas of your body. In fact, many individuals carry benign tumors that don't require treatment, such as moles, throughout their lives.”Do benign tumors spread quickly? ›
Benign tumors are those that stay in their primary location without invading other sites of the body. They do not spread to local structures or to distant parts of the body. Benign tumors tend to grow slowly and have distinct borders. Benign tumors are not usually problematic.What are the long term effects of a benign brain tumor? ›
Some people who have had a brain tumour can develop side effects of treatment months or years later, such as: cataracts. problems with thinking, memory, language or judgement. epilepsy.How do they tell if a brain tumor is benign? ›
If you have brain tumor symptoms, your doctor may start with a neurological exam. You also may need an imaging test such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Often, a biopsy (taking a small sample of the tumor) is the only way to tell if a tumor is benign or malignant (cancerous).Can I drive with a benign brain tumour? ›
Benign brain tumours
You will need to stop driving while you are having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. This depends on the type and grade of your tumour, and the type of treatment you have had. For example, you might be able to drive 6 months after surgery for a slow growing (grade 1) meningioma.