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The Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute is a Center of Excellence at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas’ only comprehensive cancer treatment and research facility, providing the most advanced treatment options for malignant and benign central nervous system tumors.

What is neuro-oncology?

Neuro-oncology is the study of the brain and spinal cord, and relates to tumors or cancers affecting the central nervous system. The network of the brain and spinal cord is called the central nervous system (CNS).

What causes brain and spinal cord tumors and who can get them?

Having certain genetic syndromes may increase the risk of a central nervous system tumor, but the cause of most adult brain and spinal cord tumors is not known. That being said, brain and spinal cord tumors can occur in both adults and children. However, treatment for children may be different from treatment for adults.1

Brain Anatomy, Functions and Symptoms

The brain is divided down the middle from front to back into two halves called the cerebral hemispheres. Each hemisphere is divided into four lobes. Brain tumors located in the lobes are called supratentorial and tumors located in the cerebellum or brainstem are called infratentorial.

Brain tumors, regardless of their location, can cause headaches, seizures and problems with multitasking. Learn about specific changes you may experience based on the tumor location (see diagram).2

  1. Frontal Lobe
    Controls executive functions like concentration, thinking, problem solving and judgment; motivation, emotions, muscle strength, and behavior
  2. Parietal Lobe
    Controls feeling on the opposite side of body, ability to understand spoken language, ability to express yourself with language, and processing sensory information such as texture, temperature, and position in space
  3. Occipital Lobe
    Controls sight and processing information from the eyes, such as recognizing images
  4. Temporal Lobe
    Controls processing feelings of pain and hunger, fight-or-flight stress response, short-term memory, emotion, understanding words and directions
  5. Brainstem
    Controls heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, swallowing and digestion. May also affect the nerves that come directly from the brain, movement, and the function of any of the senses
  6. Cerebellum
    Controls speech, balance and coordination of movement of the body, arms and legs
Brain anatomy infographic

Spine Anatomy, Functions and Symptoms

Spinal cord tumors are described based on where on the cord the tumor is located and each vertebra is numbered from top to bottom. Spinal cord tumors, regardless of location, often cause pain, numbness, weakness or lack of coordination in the arms and legs, usually on both sides of the body. They also often cause bladder or bowel problems. Learn about specific changes you may experience based on the tumor location.

At UAMS, we offer cutting edge technology for minimally invasive and stereotactic surgery for tumors of the brain and spine. Our services feature the Gamma Knife, the only one of its kind in Arkansas, which is used by our doctors to correct a wide variety of abnormalities in the brain and cervical spine, including:

  • Facial pain
  • Vascular disorders, such as arteriovenous and cavernous malformations
  • Metastatic, malignant and benign tumors


Doctor holding spine model


1 (See the PDQ summary on Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Treatment Overview for more information on the treatment of children.)
This content is provided by the National Cancer Institute (
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Source Agency: National Cancer Institute (NCI)