About Brain Cancer


There are many types of brain cancer. A primary brain tumor is one that starts in the brain. A secondary brain tumor, also called a metastatic tumor, is brain cancer that starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the brain.

Primary brain tumors can be benign. Secondary brain tumors (metastatic brain tumors), which are malignant, are more common. They develop from cancer that started somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. Types of cancer that can spread to the brain are:

Some brain tumors do not cause any symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have any of the following:  

  • Changes in vision, hearing, speech or personality  
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or trouble walking
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting
  • Frequent nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures

Your first visit at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will probably be with a neurosurgeon, a doctor who specializes in brain tumor treatment. The doctor will examine you, review your medical history and the results of any imaging tests (MRI and CT scans), and order any additional tests that are needed.

If our brain cancer doctors think you might have a brain tumor, they might do a biopsy, removing a small sample of tissue for testing.


National Cancer Institute