About brain cancer

What is the brain?

The brain and spinal cord are part of the central nervous system. The brain controls all the functions of your body. Different areas of your brain control different parts of your body.

The brain is made up of special nerve cells called neurons. These cells communicate within the brain and with parts of your body by sending nerve messages through the nervous system.
The brain and spinal cord are covered and protected by three layers of membranes called the meninges. These separate the brain from the skull. Between two of the membranes is an area called the subarachnoid space. This space contains a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is also found in the spinal cord.

What are brain tumours?

When cancer develops in the brain, the cells change and grow in an abnormal way. As the cancer grows, it develops into a group of cells called a tumour. When a brain tumour spreads within the brain, it is called malignant. Malignant brain tumours contain cancer cells and can press down on different areas of your brain and cause symptoms. Benign brain tumours do not contain cancer cells.

How common are brain tumours?

In 2017 it was estimated that 390 people are diagnosed with brain tumours every year in Ireland. There are many types of brain tumours that can affect different age groups.