Benign Brain Tumor FAQs

Finding out you have a brain tumor is frightening. Most of the time, a brain tumor is not cancerous. But that doesn't mean you don't have questions, want a second opinion, or need treatment. Get started with these benign brain tumor FAQs.

What Is a Benign Brain Tumor?

A benign brain tumor is a non-cancerous mass of slow-growing cells in and around the brain. The good news: These tumors usually don’t spread to other parts of the body. And most of the time, they’re curable.

What Are the Different Types of Brain Tumors?

Common types of benign brain tumors are:

  • Chordomas – located at the base of the skull or the bottom part of the spine
  • Meningioma – found in the protective membrane surrounding the brain
  • Gangliocytomas and gangliomas – formed in the nerve cells
  • Hemangioblastoma – found in the blood vessels of the brain
  • Pituitary adenomas – located in the pea-sized pituitary gland at the base of the brain
  • Schwannomas – developing in the cells that conduct nerve impulses

Some rare genetic disorders cause benign brain tumors. These conditions include Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) and Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2).

Can I Be Living with a Benign Brain Tumor & Not Know It?

Yes. Not everyone living with a benign brain tumor has symptoms. Benign brain tumors can be tiny, the size of a seed or a pea.

What Are the Symptoms of Benign Brain Tumors?

Depending on how big and where it is, a brain tumor can cause:

  • Balance and walking problems
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding, or remembering things
  • Frequent headaches
  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Seizures
  • Sudden personality or mood changes

If They're Not Cancer, Are Benign Brain Tumors a Problem?

If they get too close to surrounding nerves and blood vessels, these types of tumors can can cause: 

  • Damage to healthy brain tissue
  • Increased pressure inside the skull
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Fluid buildup

How Do I Know If My Brain Tumor is Cancer?

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).

    Does Having a Benign Brain Tumor Mean You Need Treatment?

    Maybe not. For some people, the best option is “wait and watch” to keep an eye on the tumor’s growth. Some people find out they have a benign brain tumor when undergoing imaging tests for another problem, such as a head injury. 

    What Treatments Can Help?

      Most benign brain tumors can be cured with surgery. But some are in hard-to-reach areas. Or they may be intertwined with nerves, blood vessels, and other healthy tissue.

      Learn more about your benign brain tumor treatments.