Skip to main content
An official website of the United States government

When Your Rare Brain or Spine Tumor Recurs

Credit: iStock

A recurrence is when your tumor begins to grow or has come back. Even when treatment has finished, there is always a chance the tumor will recur. It is not possible for your doctor to know if or when your tumor will recur. Tumors often come back in the same spot as the original tumor. But it is possible for a brain and spine tumor to return in another location in the central nervous system (CNS).


Signs and symptoms of a recurrent brain or spine tumor are often the same symptoms you had before, but can feel more pronounced. If you have worsening of your symptoms or new symptoms, it is important to talk to your health care team. You can also find strategies to manage your symptoms.

Follow-up Care

It is important to continue to be monitored by a neuro-oncologist after you complete treatment. Monitoring may include physical and neurologic exams and imaging of your brain or spine. By being monitored, your doctor will be able to detect a recurrent tumor and start treatment. Your treatment may include chemotherapy or you may join a clinical trial to test a new treatment.


Finding out that your tumor has recurred can cause feelings of shock, anger, sadness, and fear. But this time you have something that you didn’t have before - experience. You’ve lived through cancer already and you know what to expect. Treatments also may have improved since you were first diagnosed. New drugs or therapies may be more successful and help with your treatment or in managing side effects.

We understand that facing a recurrence can be scary and challenging for you and your family. Use these resources to help guide your treatment decisions, find support, and inspire you through another cancer journey.

Tips for Rare Brain and Spine Tumor Patients

Guiding Questions

It is important to the success of your treatment to find a doctor that has experience treating your tumor type. Given brain and spine tumors are rare, there are few centers that have doctors with that level of expertise. Use our network of healthcare professionals to find an experienced doctor near you and get a second opinion.

Treatment Resources

Coping and Support Resources

  • Updated:

If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see Reuse of NCI Information for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product's title; e.g., “When Your Rare Brain or Spine Tumor Recurs was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.”