There are many different types of brain tumours.  They are usually named after the type of brain cell from which they have developed. This section gives brief details about some of the main types of brain tumours:


These tumours develop from the supporting cells of the brain known as glial cells.  They are named after the type of cell from which they arose. The glioma group can be broadly sub-categorised into:

  • Astrocytomas: The most common type of brain tumour found in adults and are thought to develop from astrocyte cells.
  • Oligodendrogliomas: Develop from the oligodendrocyte cells which produce the 'insulation' covering of nerve cells(the myelin sheath).
  • Mixed Gliomas: Mixed gilomas are made up of more than one type of cell, eg. Oligo-astrocytoma are a type of mixed giloma that are made up of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. 
  • Ependymomas: Develop from the ependymal cells which line the ventricles (fluid spaces) of the brain and the central canal of the spinal cord. These tumours can spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord.

Not all Gliomas are of the same severity and they are graded based on their biological 'aggressiveness'. 
Read more information on the various types of Glioma.

Other types of brian tumour

  • Medulloblastomas: These develop in the cerebellum at the back of the brain but may spread to other parts of the brain. They are rare in adults but are one of the most common malignant brain tumours seen in children.
  • Metastases to the brain: Brain metasteses are the most common brain tumour seen clinically in the UK. Approximately one quarter of cancer patients will develop brain metastases. Patients with cancer who develop neurological symptoms should consult their oncologist or GP at the earliest opportunity as treatment options may be greater with earlier detection.
  • Meningioma : These develop from the meninges, a layer of cells covering the central nervous system. They are usually slow growing and can occur over the brain or spinal cord. Most are benign and will not spread from the area in which they originated.
  • Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma) : These develop from the Vestibular nerve which is responsible for balance control. These tumours typically present with hearing loss and tinnitus. This type of tumour is usually found in adults and is more common in people with the genetic condition called neurofibromatosis
  • Pituitary Tumours : The pituitary gland produces hormones that control and regulate the other hormone producing glands of the body. Most pituitary tumours are benign and can present with hormonal abnormalities and/or visual symptoms.
  • Lymphoma : A lymphoma is a maligant tumour of the immune system which can arise primariy within the brain or or more commonly from a source elsewhere in the body.
  • Pineal Tumours: Tumours developing in the pineal region of the brain are rare and tend to occur more often in children and young adults. A wide range of tumour types may develop in this region and blood and cerebrospinal fluid markers may help in the diagnosis.

Other types of tumour exist but are rare.

Read more on the various types of brain tumours