Brain Tumor

There is no second-guessing when faced with a brain or spine tumor. At Hoag, you can trust you’re with the right doctors, using the most advanced techniques, based on the latest clinical research – to give you the very best care.

Hoag’s multidisciplinary approach brings together the best minds in medicine, with leading experts from Hoag Family Cancer Institute, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute and other specialty areas. Our dedicated, world-class teams are wholly focused on helping you survive cancer, if that is part of the diagnosis, heal and move forward with your life.

Why Hoag is Right for You.

Expertise, Technology & Research – Right Here in Orange County

There Is No Second-Guessing When Faced With A Brain Tumor

At Hoag, we know every person needs a dedicated team of experts to help them beat brain cancer. Here you can trust you’re with the right doctors, using the most advanced techniques, based on the latest clinical research.

Renowned, Triple Board-Certified Director of Neuro-Oncology

Hoag recently welcomed Director of Neuro-Oncology Dr. Simon Khagi, who specializes in primary and metastatic brain cancers and spinal cord tumors. Active in clinical research, Dr. Khagi studies the development of cancer vaccines and the effects of immunotherapy and precision/genomic-guided therapy on cancer outcomes – to help you conquer cancer.

Meet Hoag’s Director of Neuro-Oncology

World-Class Oncologic Neurosurgery Team

You don’t want just any surgeon treating a brain or spine malignancy – you want the best. Hoag’s subspecialty trained neuro-oncology surgeons focus solely on their individual specialty areas. Whether you’re facing a glioblastoma or brain metastases, you can be confident that your surgeon’s depth of expertise is unparalleled.

Meet the Team

Groundbreaking Clinical Research

At Hoag, you have access to the latest clinical trials that are making advances in treatment of brain and spine tumors. Our clinical trials in the areas of glioblastoma, meningioma, advanced glioma, brain metastases, and immunotherapy/cell therapy, among others, provide groundbreaking treatments that are helping to beat the odds against brain cancer.

Learn about Clinical Research and Trials Available at Hoag

With Virtual Reality Surgical Simulation, the Future is Now

Hoag is one of few hospitals in the nation to use the Precision Virtual Reality medical visualization platform by Surgical Theater, combining flight-simulation technology with imaging scans to create a 360-degree reconstruction of a patient’s scan – allowing oncologic neurosurgeons to rehearse their approach to surgery before ever entering the operating room.

Learn more about Virtual Reality at Hoag

Navigating Your Care

Hoag Family Cancer Institute’s dedicated subspecialty clinical nurse navigators are here to support you with resources and connections to providers. They offer guidance across every aspect of care, from specialists to dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, mental health professionals, social workers and other resources. They also support your family, caregivers and loved ones with a full range of services that include psychology, patient education and support groups.

Meet Your Navigator

The Most Advanced Radiation Treatment Options

Hoag offers the full range of leading-edge radiation treatment options available for brain and spine tumors including one of Southern California’s few Gamma Knife programs for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) treatment and ViewRay MRIdian Linear Accelerator for stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatments. 

Learn about Treatment Options at Hoag

Integrated Care & Support Network

Hoag’s integrated care network will support you every step of the way – from advanced diagnostic and treatment methods to comprehensive support services addressing every aspect of your care. We begin by providing an individualized treatment plan, designed by experts who specialize in your specific type and stage of cancer. 

Learn about Support Services at Hoag

Hoag Family Cancer Institute Locations:

All-Inclusive Cancer Care Nearby in Orange County

Patty & George Hoag Cancer Center
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian 1 Hoag Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Hoag Cancer Center Irvine
Hoag Health Center Irvine-Sand Canyon 16105 Sand Canyon Ave. Irvine, CA 92618

Marilyn Herbert Hausman Advanced Technology Pavilion
Lower campus of Hoag Hospital Newport Beach 1 Hoag Dr. Newport Beach, CA 92663

Hoag Medical Oncology – Huntington Beach
19582 Beach Boulevard, Suite 219, Huntington Beach, CA, USA






World-Class Cancer Treatment. Right here in OC.

Hoag is the top choice for cancer care in Orange County, with cancer survival rates that continually exceed national averages. Our dedicated, world-class teams are wholly focused on helping you survive cancer, heal and move forward with your life.

Brain tumors are abnormal masses of cells that can occur within the brain. These tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). However, because brain tumors occur in the complex, delicate organ that controls most of our bodily functions — including thinking, memory, breathing, speech, vision, hearing and dozens of other important processes — all brain tumors are considered dangerous to a person’s health.

While malignant brain tumors don’t often spread (or “metastasize”) to other parts of the body, malignant brain tumors often spread to other parts of the brain. While benign brain tumors are not likely to spread, they can intrude on and press against healthy brain tissue as they grow, causing damage to the brain and life-threatening effects.    

Tumors that begin in the brain are called “primary brain tumors.” However, other types of cancer that start in the body can spread to the brain. This results in what are called “secondary brain tumors” or “metastatic brain cancer.”

According to the American Cancer Society, brain tumors are classified based on several different factors. These factors often guide both the treatment path and prognosis.

Brain tumors are usually assigned what’s called a “grade.”

  • Lower grade tumors (grades 1 and 2) aren’t as likely to invade other tissues and grow more slowly. Prognosis for lower-grade tumors is generally better
  • Higher grade tumors (grades 3 and 4) grow more rapidly, and are more likely to spread into other parts of the brain. These tumors often require more invasive treatment efforts, and may have a worse long-term prognosis

There are many different types of brain tumors, each usually classified by where they start in the brain or the type of cells they started from. Types of brain tumors include:

  • Craniopharyngiomas, which are tumors that begin between the bottom of the brain and the pituitary gland. These tumors often press on the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, and can cause issues with hormone secretion. Because they often occur close to the optic nerves, they can also cause problems with vision.
  • Glioblastomas (also called GBM) are grade 4 malignant (cancerous)  tumors predominantly made up of abnormal astrocytic cells, but also contains a mix of different cell types (including blood vessels) and areas of dead cells (necrosis). Glioblastomas can invade nearby regions of the brain and may also sometimes spread to the opposite side of the brain. It is exceedingly rare for glioblastomas to spread outside of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Gliomas, which are tumors that start in specialized cells in the brain called glial cells. There are several subtypes of gliomas, including ependymomas, astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. According to the American Cancer Society, about 30% of brain tumors are gliomas.
  • Meningiomas are tumors that start in meninges, which are the tissues that cover the outer part of the brain and spinal cord. According to the ACS, meningiomas are the most common non-metastatic brain tumors in adults.
  • Gangliogliomas, which are rare, slow-growing tumors that include a mix of both abnormal glial cells and neurons.
  • Medulloblastomas, which are tumors that develop in the cerebellum from immature nerve cells called neuroectodermal cells. Medulloblastomas are more common in children and adults.
  • Schwannomas (AKA neurilemmomas), which are tumors that develop from specialized cells that protect and insulate nerves called Schwann cells. These tumors can begin in any nerve in the skull. When they occur on the nerve that controls balance and hearing, they are called “vestibular schwannomas.” Other forms of schwannomas can intrude on the upper spinal cord, causing issues with bowel/bladder control, muscle weakness and other effects.

Both cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumors cause symptoms that can severely impact a person’s health. These symptoms can be caused by malignant tumors spreading to other parts of the brain, or non-cancerous tumors pressing on nerves, the pituitary gland, spinal cord or brain tissue. Brain tumors can also increase what’s called intracranial pressure inside the skull, either through the growth of the tumor, causing the brain to swell, or blocking the movement of cerebrospinal fluid that the brain needs to function.

According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms caused by increased intracranial pressure due to a brain tumor can include:

  • Headaches that grow in severity over time. While most headaches aren’t related to brain tumors, headaches are the most common symptom experienced by those with brain tumors, occurring in about half of those diagnosed according to the ACS.
  • Unexplained drowsiness
  • Sudden onset of coma
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures, though over 90% of first-time seizures are not related to brain tumors.
  • Changes to a person’s behavior or personality

Issues with balance or walking

Other symptoms related to brain tumors can vary, depending on the part of the brain in which the tumor occurs. According to the American Cancer Society, these symptoms can include:

  • Problems understanding words or speaking, which can be related to a tumor in the cerebellum near the part of the brain responsible for speech and language.
  • Numbness or weakness, usually on only one side of the body, which can be related to a tumor in the part of the cerebellum that controls movement.
  • Changes to personality or problems thinking, which can be related to tumors in the cerebellum.
  • Trouble walking, issues with control of the hands and feet, problems swallowing and/or issues with controlling the eyes, which may be related to tumors in the lower-rear part of the cerebellum.
  • Vision problems, which can be related to tumors near the optic nerve or other cranial nerves that control eye movement.
  • Hearing loss, numbness or pain in the face, trouble swallowing and/or balance issues, which may be related to tumors pressing on or invading nerves in the head.
  • Bladder/bowel control issues and/or numbness/weakness in the arms and legs, which can be related to tumors near the spinal cord.
  • Over- or underproduction of certain hormones, which can be related to tumors in the skull base or near the pituitary gland. This can create hormone imbalances that seriously impact the normal function of the body. Learn more about skull base and pituitary tumors.