Brain cancer research

A brain tumour is a collection of cells that have grown in a non ordered way. Tumours that start in the brain are called primary brain tumours.

This is different to cancers that have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. These are called secondary brain tumours or brain metastases.

Almost half of brain tumours in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over. This includes tumours in other parts of the central nervous system and tumours anywhere else inside the bones of the head.

We have open clinical trials for brain tumours, glioma and ependymoma.

Primary and secondary brain tumours

Primary brain tumours start in the brain. Tumours can start in any part of the brain or related structures.

The most common types of brain tumours in adults start in the main part of the brain called the cerebrum. About a quarter of tumours start in the meninges. These are the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Around 1 in 10 tumours start in the glands of the brain such as the pituitary gland or pineal gland.

Secondary brain tumours are cancers that have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. These are called brain metastases.

Cancers of the lung, breast, kidney, stomach, bowel (colon), and melanoma skin cancer can all spread to the brain. This happens because cancer cells break away from the primary cancer and travel through the bloodstream to lodge in the brain. There they can begin to grow into new tumours.


Gliomas are brain tumours starting in the glial cells. There are 3 main types of glioma:

  • astrocytoma
  • oligodendroglioma
  • ependymoma

Sometimes the tumour can have a mix of more than one of these types.Gliomas can be low grade (slow growing) or high grade (fast growing). Doctors use the grade to decide which treatment you need. The position of the tumour is also very important.

For more information about brain cancer research visit