At Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA our top-rated physicians have strong expertise in providing innovative treatments for patients with brain tumors. In fact, we are the only hospital in Massachusetts to offer Gamma Knife therapy.
Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumor in adults, responsible for about 42% of all adult brain tumors. Gliomas are further characterized by the types of cells they affect:
Astrocytoma: Star-shaped cells that protect and support neurons. Tumors of these cells can spread from the primary site to other areas of the brain, but rarely spread outside the central nervous system. Astrocytomas are graded from I to IV depending on the speed of progression:
Grade I (pilocytic astrocytoma): Slow growing tumor, with little tendency to infiltrate surrounding brain tissue and most common in children and adolescents.
Grade II (diffuse astrocytoma): Fairly slow-growing tumor, with some tendency to infiltrate surrounding brain tissue and mostly seen in young adults.
Grade III (anaplastic astrocytoma): These tumors grow rather quickly and infiltrate surrounding brain tissue.
Grade IV (glioblastoma multiform, GBM): This is an extremely aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer. Unfortunately, it is the most common form of brain tumor in adults, accounting for 67% of all astrocytomas.
Oligodendroglioma: These cells make myelin, a fatty substance that forms a protective sheath around nerve cells. Oligodendrogliomas, which make up 4% of brain tumors, mostly affect people over 45 years of age. Some subtypes of this tumor are particularly sensitive to treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Half of patients with oligodendrogliomas are still alive after five years.
Ependymoma: These tumors affect ependymal cells, which line the pathways that carry cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain and spinal cord. Ependymomas are rare and make up 2% of all brain tumors; however they are the most common brain tumor in children. They generally don’t affect healthy brain tissue and don’t spread beyond the ependyma. Although these tumors respond well to surgery, particularly those on the spine, ependymomas cannot always be completely removed. The five-year survival rate for patients over age 45 approaches 70%.
Programs + Services
The Brain Tumor Center at Tufts Medical Center offers Boston's most sophisticated brain tumor treatment options by a team of the world's top experts.