Sunday, 8 February 2009

What are the commonest types of brain tumours?

On the whole, brain tumours occur in around 6 per 100 000 people. 

In adults, the commonest tumours are gliomas, metastases and meningiomas.  The commonest site is in the supratentorial compartment (i.e. above the tentorium cerebelli). 

In children, the commonest tumours are medulloblastomas and cerebellar astrocytomas, and the intratentorial compartment is the most probable site.

And what is a glioma?  The term has varying amounts of support, but is fundamentally an umbrella term for tumour of the glial cells.  The glial cells are the ‘support’ cells of the brain substance, and thus exclude neurones.  Specifically therefore, gliomas are meant to include astrocytomas (which are the most likely to be implicated), oligodendrogliomas, ependymomas and gliobastoma multiforme.  (The latter is now best thought of as a poorly differentiated astrocytic tumour, though.)

Whew!  Enough terminology?

Source:  Neurology and Neuroscience Illustrated (4th edn.), Lindsay and Bone.

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