Brain Tumors In Children

Brain tumors in children are not uncommon. While in general tumors and cancers affect the elderly population more than children, there are a number of specific types of tumors which are known to affect children. Some of these, especially medulloblastoma (which is the most common type), affect the brain.

Brain tumors can affect individuals of any age. However, there are a few specific types that can occur most commonly in young individuals, including infants.

The most common types of brain tumors in children include:

Medulloblastoma: By far the most common type of brain tumor affecting children, medulloblastoma generally presents in early life. It arises in the roof of the 4th ventricle, one of the fluid-filled spaces within the brain and can obstruct the flow of this fluid, often leading to hydrocephalus.

Gliomas: Gliomas are a large class of primary brain tumors that can affect all ages. However, there are some specific types that occur in children. In particular, some forms of low-grade (benign) astrocytoma, particularly pilocytic astrocytoma occur in children. These tumors are often cystic and can involve various parts of the brain. Low-grade brainstem gliomas can also occur in children and are rare in older individuals.

Ependymomas: A subclass of gliomas are ependymomas which are tumors arising from the cells lining the ventricles, the fluid-filled spaces within the brain. Because they grow within the ventricles, they can also cause hydrocephalus in some cases, similar to medulloblastoma.

What Are The Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Children?

Symptoms vary depending on the specific type of tumor and its location. Headache is one of the most common symptoms and may be accompanied by visual changes. Other symptoms can include seizures, changes in personality, fatigue and increased sleep, problems with balance, and others. Symptoms of hydrocephalus, which can occur with some tumors, include headache, deteriorating level of consciousness, and others.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As with brain tumors in adults, brain tumors in children are generally diagnosed by imaging studies which demonstrate the tumor. These can include CT scan and/or MRI scan. Once they are identified, final diagnosis of the type of tumor requires biopsy or removal of the tumor.

Treatments vary depending on the type and location of the tumor. See each individual tumor type above for further information on treatment options.

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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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