Brain Tumor Program: Types of Tumors

Brain tumors happen when an abnormal mass forms in the brain or spinal cord. There are more than 120 types of brain tumors. Knowing the tumor type helps our experts tailor treatments to meet your unique needs. Each tumor type has a unique profile, including how quickly it grows, when treatment is necessary and which treatment approach may be most effective.

Patients who come to the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program receive care from a team renowned for its skill and expertise in diagnosing and treating all types of brain tumors. We treat the highest volume of patients with brain tumors in Orange County and surrounding communities, which means you receive care from the most experienced team in the region.

Expert brain tumor care

We are the largest and most comprehensive brain tumor program in Orange County. Ours is one of only five such programs in California. As a comprehensive brain tumor program, we deliver specialized testing, treatments and the support you need.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Second opinions: If you have recently been diagnosed with a brain or spine tumor and are seeking a second opinion, we have a team of specialists that can confirm a diagnosis accurately and quickly. In a single visit, you can meet with multiple experts and receive an expert opinion about your diagnosis and the most effective treatment plan. Learn more about second opinions ›
  • Best available treatments: You have access to the latest brain and spine tumor treatments available. You may also be able to receive promising new treatments before they are widely available to the public, through our clinical trials program. Find out more about brain tumor treatments ›
  • Education and support: Receiving a brain or spine tumor diagnosis can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go it alone. We offer education and support to help you make good decisions about your care and solve problems that could get in the way of your treatments. Read more: Newly diagnosed with a brain tumor? ›

Tumor types

The most common tumor types we treat include:

  • Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous (malignant) tumors in adults and an especially fast growing cancer. This type of tumor arises from glial cells. Glial cells form the protective tissue around nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord. Learn more about glioblastomas ›
  • Meningiomas are tumors that occur in the meninges, which are layers of tissue protecting the brain and spinal cord. Unlike other brain tumors that can grow anywhere in the brain, meningiomas grow only on the surface of the brain or spinal cord. Meningiomas are often noncancerous (benign) but can grow large enough to disrupt normal brain functioning. Find out more about meningiomas ›
  • Metastatic brain tumors begin in another part of the body and spread (metastasize) to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors differ from primary brain tumors because they are made up of cells from the primary cancer. In other words, if a breast cancer patient’s tumor metastasizes to the brain, the brain tumor is actually made up of breast cancer cells. Learn more about metastatic brain tumors ›
  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma is a malignant tumor that stems from white blood cells in the brain. Patients with other medical conditions, such as certain viral infections and weakened immune systems, face a higher risk of developing this type of tumor. Read more about primary central nervous system lymphoma ›
  • Pituitary tumors form in the pituitary gland, which is a tiny organ in the brain located behind the back of the nose. Tumors in this area are generally noncancerous, but they can grow large enough to cause problems in other parts of the body. Learn more about pituitary tumors ›
  • Pineal tumors arise from the cells of the pineal gland. The pineal gland is responsible for producing chemical messengers (hormones) that control several everyday functions, including your sleep-wake cycle. Tumors in this area are rare and typically affect children and young adults.

Contact us

To schedule an appointment, call 714-456-8000 or fill out an online request form. You may also send us an email.

Our 24-hour promise: If you are a new patient, one of our brain tumor physicians will return your call within 24 hours. You can be seen in our offices within 48 hours after insurance approval.