Pediatric Brain Tumors

WHAT ARE PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS?

Pediatric Brain Tumors

Pediatric brain tumors are masses of abnormal cells located in a child’s brain or the tissue and structures nearby. There are many types of pediatric brain tumors – some of which are benign, while others are cancerous.

 

Brain tumors in children typically begin when normal cells have DNA mutations, which grow and divide at increased rates. This results in a mass of abnormal cells that ultimately forms a tumor.

 

Common forms of pediatric brain tumors include:

  • Choroid plexus carcinoma – a rare cancerous brain tumor that most often occurs in children under two years old
  • Craniopharyngioma – a noncancerous brain tumor that begins near the brain’s pituitary gland and secretes hormones that affect the function of the pituitary gland
  • Embryonal tumors – a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the fetal (embryonic) cells in the brain. Occurs mainly in babies and young children
  • Ependymoma – a malignant tumor that forms in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord
  • Glioma – one of the most common of brain tumors, gliomas can affect brain function and can be life-threatening
  • Medulloblastoma – this is a cancerous brain tumor that starts in the cerebellum and can affect balance, motor function, and movement.
  • Pineoblastoma – this is a rare, aggressive type of cancer that begins in the cells of the brain’s pineal gland, which controls the sleep-wake cycle

Symptoms

Symptoms of a pediatric brain tumor depend on the tumor type, size, location and rate of growth. Some of the more common symptoms of a brain tumor in children include:

  • Headaches, which can vary in frequency and severity
  • A feeling of increased pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden onset of vision problems

 

Depending on the tumor’s location, other possible symptoms can include:

  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Loss of appetite; or difficulty feeding
  • Trouble walking or problems with balance
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in an arm or a leg
  • Weakness or drooping on one side on the face
  • Confusion, irritability, memory problems
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Hearing problems

Treatment

Treatment for pediatric brain tumors can be quite different from treatment for adult brain tumors, so it’s very important that you enlist the help of an experienced pediatric neurosurgeon.

 

Your child’s prognosis and our approach to treatment will depend on the type of tumor your child has, its location, and whether it has spread. Other important factors include your child’s age and general health.

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