Brain tumours

learn more about brain tumours

Brain tumours can be primary or metastatic. 

Primary tumours originate in the cells that make up the various brain structures. They are a varied group of tumours with very different origins, prognosis and treatment, ranging from highly uncommon tumours such as pilocytic astrocytoma, curable with surgery alone, to glioblastoma multiforme, which is virtually incurable despite surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Metastatic tumours are tumours that have disseminated to the brain from an extracerebral (outside the brain) location. They are 10 times more common than primary brain tumours. It is estimated that approximately 20%-40% of patients with cancer develop brain metastases.
We have the most advanced technology, both for the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumours. The use of fluorescence microscopy has increased by 83% the possibility of completely extirpating the tumour, which significantly increases the survival of patients with these tumours.
Imagen preview del infográfico del microscopio fluorescente para los tumores cerebrales
Learn the use of the fluorescent microscope for removal of brain tumors. [Infography only available in Spanish]
Download document
Las investigaciones han demostrado que el índice de supervivencia o de curación de los tumores cerebrales depende, en buena medida, de la extirpación total del tumor. Esto resulta complejo en el caso de tumores cerebrales malignos debido a su forma difusa que dificulta su diferenciación del tejido cerebral sano. En la Clínica Universidad de Navarra se realiza la cirugía de extirpación de tumores cerebrales malignos con un microscopio fluorescente  que, a través de una sustancia inocua para el paciente, puede  identificar completamente la zona tumoral y diferenciarla de la zona  sana, consiguiendo una extirpación total del tumor en el 83% de los  casos, frente al 30% que se lograba anteriormente.
Treatment of brain tumours [Video only available in Spanish]
Tailored vaccines against brain tumour. [Video only available in Spanish]
  • Headache is the most common nonspecific symptom, but in many cases its presence does not lead us to suspect a brain tumour.
  • Symptoms resulting from increased intracranial pressure, such as drowsiness, can be more indicative of the presence of a glioma.
  • There are other more specific signs and symptoms that appear depending on the location of the disease, such as focal signs (loss of strength, difficulty speaking and visual field defects), seizures and haemorrhaging.
There is no known cause responsible for the onset of malignant brain tumours.
Less than 5% of gliomas have a known family history. Moreover, there are various degenerative brain diseases that predispose patients to gliomas.
The frequent use of mobile telephones has not been shown to cause a greater incidence of these brain tumours.
The prognosis depends mainly on the tumour’s aggressiveness.
In adults, 60% of primary brain tumours are gliomas or astrocytomas. 
  • Low-grade I and II gliomas. The factors for a good prognosis are an age less than 40 years, a tumour diameter less than 6 cm, a tumour that does not exceed the midline, the histological type of tumour is oligoastrocytoma and an absence of neurological deficits. Survival for these patients with high-grade tumours varies between 2 and 9 years depending on the prognosis group.
  • Gliomas III and IV. The factors for a good prognosis are age (less than 40 years), a good overall condition with autonomy, normal mental state and a complete surgical resection. Survival for these patients with high-grade tumours varies between 2 and 6 years depending on the prognosis group.

There are many types of brain tumours, both malignant and benign.

  • Gliomas: there are many types, but the most common are astrocytomas,oligodendrogliomas and glioblastomas. The differences between them can be very complex. An expert pathologist is needed to distinguish them correctly.
  • Meningiomas: meningioma is the most common benign brain tumour. It originates from cells in the membranes that surround the brain. It does not grow within the brain, but it compresses the brain.
  • Brain metastases: these are the most common brain tumours in adults. Between 20% and 40% of patients with cancer develop a brain metastasis during their disease. The tumour types that most often develop brain metastases are melanoma, pulmonary carcinoma, breast carcinoma and renal carcinoma.
  • Pituitary adenomas: these represent 15% of intracranial tumours. Surgery decompresses the structures adjacent to the lesion and restores the function of the pituitary gland.
  • Craniopharyngiomas: these congenital tumours originate in the embryonic residues that connect the brain with the pharynx and usually appear just above the pituitary gland.
  • CNS lymphomas: primary brain lymphomas are uncommon. They originate from lymphocytes. The average age of presentation is 60 years.
  • Schwannomas or neurinomas: these are tumours that originate from Schwann cells, which produce myelin. Except for the optical nerves, all nerves are related to these cells.
  • Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes: in some patients with incipient cancer, the body detects the tumour cells and triggers an immune response to eliminate them. Sometimes, this response also attacks the nervous system.
  • Neuronal tumours: neuronal tumours (gangliocytomas, central neurocytomas and cerebellar liponeurocytomas) are formed by tumour cells of neuronal origin, most of which are benign. These types of tumours are uncommon.

Laboratory plasma tests can be used for patients who, due to the tumour’s inaccessible location or the patient’s highly deteriorated general condition, cannot undergo surgery.”

Or we call

I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy

* Operating hours based on Spanish (Peninsula) time.

Thank you. We will be in touch shortly.

The Phone no. field is required.

Please review the phone no. indicated, which must contain 9-15 digits and begin with 6,8,9,71,72,73 or 74. For international numbers please indicate 00, followed by the international country code, followed by the phone number.

You must accept Terms and conditions, and the Data protection policy.

Wait a few moments while we process your request.

Close Submit



Learn why the Clínica Universidad de Navarra is different from other hospitals.

Imagen de una niña pequeña con cáncer por los pasillos de la Clínica


Want to participate in our clinical trials? Learn which ones are active.

Imagen médico investigando con microscopio


Know what we do for our international patients

Entrada principal a la Clínica Universidad de Navarra