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Five words can instantly turn your world upside down — “You have a brain tumor.”

You’ll face a lot of unknowns and may find yourself wondering what a brain tumor means for your future. Is it cancerous? How will it affect me? Will I be OK? Finding the best possible care shouldn’t weigh on your mind, too.

Cleveland Clinic is here with the expert care and support you need. Our team helps you move forward — from the moment you reach out to us. We personalize everything we do for you. We answer your questions, listen to your concerns and walk you through every step ahead. All with the caring support you deserve.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Brain Tumor Care?

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Trusted experts:

Cleveland Clinic’s brain tumor team is made up of expert neurosurgery, neuro-oncology and radiation oncology providers. Our team offers the most advanced care, using the latest diagnostic and treatment approaches like surgery, chemotherapy, targeted immunotherapies, radiotherapy and radiosurgery. Meet our team.

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Caring approach:

A brain tumor diagnosis is life-altering. And it can affect you emotionally and mentally, not just physically. That’s why we listen to you and help you get all the support you need before, during and after treatment. We also know cancer treatment can affect your family in stressful ways. So, we offer this same personalized support for your loved ones.

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Innovation and research:

Our researchers are leaders in looking for new information about what causes brain tumors. And we not only look for ways to improve today’s treatments but also actively develop new ones. Clinical trials allow us to test new tools, medications and other therapies before they’re widely available.

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Virtual visits:

When you’re going through brain tumor treatment, you may not feel up to going to an in-person medical appointment. That’s OK. We’ve got you covered. You and your providers can meet online using virtual visits for some appointments. You get the same great care without leaving home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer to get started.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Understanding the Types of Brain Tumors

Did you know there are more than 150 kinds of brain tumors? Some grow quickly. Others develop slowly. And only about one-third of them are cancerous (malignant).

Malignant primary brain tumors

When tumors start growing in the brain, we call them primary tumors. This means they’re forming from abnormal cells in the brain tissue.

Most of these cancerous tumors start in abnormal glial cells that surround and help your nerve cells. These are called gliomas. There are different types, like:

Metastatic brain tumors

If you have cancer in another part of your body — like the breasts, liver or lungs — that cancer can spread (metastasize) to your brain and cause tumors, too. But they aren’t primary brain tumors. They’re called metastatic brain tumors.

Benign brain tumors

Benign brain tumors aren’t cancerous. But they can still grow large and press on nerves and brain tissue. This can cause problems with how your brain works. And they can affect speech, memory, hearing and more. Common benign tumors are:

Diagnosing a Brain Tumor at Cleveland Clinic

Both cancerous and noncancerous brain tumors can cause serious symptoms. Why? Because your skull is rigid. And this means they don’t have room to grow and spread out.

These tumors can press on nerves and cause problems with balancing, walking, remembering, understanding, thinking, seeing, hearing and talking. They can also cause pressure and bleeding in the brain. You may have constant headaches. Or suddenly start having seizures. It’s not unusual to feel nauseated or throw up (vomit).

Symptoms depend on where the tumor’s growing in your brain. Many people get these symptoms — but not always. Sometimes brain tumors grow quietly — particularly if it’s a small tumor. But if you have symptoms regularly, it’s time to get things checked out.

What to expect at your first visit

We know it can be unsettling to learn you may have a brain tumor. That’s why your provider will take the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. They want to help you understand what to expect. Not just at this appointment but also during testing, treatment and recovery.

Your story is important to them, so they’ll also want to hear about your symptoms. What they are. How long you’ve had them. And how they’re affecting your life.

They’ll also ask questions about your health history and your family’s. All this information is important for confirming a diagnosis and learning what kind of tumor you have.

Next, you’ll have a neurological exam. Your provider does this to check your balance and coordination, reflexes, vision, hearing and mental abilities. They’ll also do a physical exam to check your overall health.

Brain tumor testing

Your provider will also order imaging tests like a brain MRI or CT scan. These tests help our team check tumor size and where it is in the brain. We may also look at other parts of your body to see if the tumor has spread.

You may also have a biopsy so we can check a small sample of brain tissue for cancer cells. We may do a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to check the fluid surrounding your brain and spine (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF) for abnormal cells, too.

Blood tests can help us look for certain substances that point to a brain tumor called tumor markers. We can also check for gene changes (mutations) that happen with certain kinds of brain tumors.

Getting a Second Opinion at Cleveland Clinic

Learning you may have a brain tumor can instantly change your life. And you’ll want to be sure you have the correct diagnosis — and the best care. Second opinions allow you to take charge of your health. And give you peace of mind.

When you reach out to Cleveland Clinic for a second opinion, we’ll schedule you as quickly as we can. At your visit, our team will go over any earlier test results and ask about your symptoms. We’ll walk you through what to expect during treatment and recovery. And we’ll answer your questions and listen to your concerns. We’re ready to help you feel as confident as possible about moving forward.

Meet Our Brain Tumor Team

Our team-based approach to treatment allows us to focus on you every step of the way. We build a personalized care team with providers from the specialties you need, like:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.

Treating a Brain Tumor at Cleveland Clinic

Your brain tumor treatment plan depends on many things. The type of tumor you have. How big it is. Where it is. How it’s affecting you. Your age and overall health. And if it’s cancerous or not.

If it’s small and not causing symptoms, we may do watchful waiting. You’ll have regular check-ins with us. And you’ll do regular testing to see if the tumor is growing.

If our team decides to move ahead with treatment, you may have:

Brain surgery

When possible, our team will try to remove the tumor with brain surgery. Some benign brain tumors respond well to this. If you have a malignant tumor, we most often combine surgery with other treatments.

Radiation therapy

We use radiation therapy to shrink the tumor and destroy abnormal cells. It’s one of the most important treatments for brain cancer. We may do it:

Systemic (whole-body) therapy

You may have treatments that help kill brain cancer cells throughout your body, too, like:

Treatments to help with symptoms

You provider may recommend ways to help you feel more comfortable. You may have a hollow tube called a shunt to drain extra cerebrospinal fluid from your brain. Or medications to help reduce swelling around the tumor. Both treatments can relieve painful pressure.

Our team may also recommend palliative care. This helps relieve symptoms and can make you feel more comfortable. It also offers many ways to support you and your family as you move through treatment.

Life After Brain Tumor Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Your care doesn’t end when you finish treatment. There’s always the chance that any brain tumor can come back (recur). It’s rarer for benign ones to do that, but it happens.

So, whether your tumor is cancerous or not, you’ll have a lot of follow-up care after treatment. This means you’ll see your care team for regular checkups and testing. We keep a close eye on you to see if you start having symptoms. Or if we notice the tumor has started growing back. If this happens, we can start treatment right away.

Taking the Next Step

A brain tumor. It’s a diagnosis no one wants to get. But if you do, one thing is clear — you want to get the best treatment and support from healthcare providers you trust. Cleveland Clinic has you covered. Our team knows you and your family might be feeling unsettled, anxious and nervous (along with the other emotions probably swirling around in your mind right now). And we’re here to help. We’re not only here to confirm diagnoses, offer second opinions and find the best treatment options for you, but to support you during the entire process. Throughout it all, we’ll make sure you and your family get the most compassionate care every step of the way.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s brain tumor experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s brain tumor experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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Learning you have cancer can be stressful and shocking. From the moment you get the news, you’re a survivor. As you face the challenges that go along with cancer treatment and recovery — physical and emotional — we’ll be right there with you. At Cleveland Clinic, survivorship care is one part of your journey. We offer a wide range of services, resources, clinics and support groups to help with any physical, emotional, financial and spiritual needs you might have related to your cancer diagnosis. Lending a helping hand along the way, we want you to not only survive, but thrive on this journey and beyond.

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