A brain tumor is a disease in which cells grow uncontrollably in the brain. Eventually these cells form a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the tumor invades nearby tissue or spreads to other parts of the body, then it is a malignant tumor. A malignant tumor is also known as cancer. Brain cancer can fall into 2 categories:
If the tumor does not invade other tissue it is considered a benign tumor. Although a benign tumor does not spread, it can cause damage by pressing on nearby brain tissue.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
The cause of most primary brain cancer and benign tumors is unknown. Researchers believe that the tumors may be due to defects in genes. These defects trigger cells to grow uncontrollably.
Secondary brain cancer is caused by the cancer spreading to the brain from another site.
Factors that increase your child’s chance of developing brain tumors include:
Symptoms depend on how large the tumor is and where it is located. Tumors can increase pressure and cause headaches. These headaches are different than the typical headaches that everyone gets. The headaches may:
The tumor can also affect the function of nearby tissue and cause:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Muscle strength, coordination, reflexes, response to stimuli, and alertness will be tested. Your child's eyes may be examined to check for signs of brain swelling.
Pictures may be needed of structures inside your child's body. This can be done with:
A sample of your child's brain tissue may be removed for testing. This will help identify certain characteristics of the tumor. If it is cancer, results from a few different tests will be used to determine the stage of the cancer. The stage helps choose the best treatment options and make a prognosis.
Treatment depends on the type, size, and location of the cancer. It also depends on your child’s overall health. Some treatments can affect nearby healthy tissue. This may lead to physical or mental limitations.
In some cases, the doctor may advise that your child takes medication, such as:
Examples of surgical procedures used to treat brain tumors include:
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells, but also some healthy cells. The drugs may be delivered into cerebrospinal fluid. This is fluid that surrounds the brain tissue.
Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. This is a common treatment for brain tumors. Radiation may be used alone or with chemotherapy. Radiation may be:
Rehabilitation therapy is important to help regain lost skills or learn new ones. Rehabilitation therapy includes:
Your child may also work with an educational specialist. They can help with the transition back to school and with learning problems.
American Brain Tumor Association
American Cancer Society
Canadian Cancer Society
Cancer Care Ontario
Brain tumor. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/brain. Accessed June 11, 2015.
Brain tumors. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Brain%20Tumors.aspx. Updated June 2012. Accessed June 11, 2015.
Brain tumors. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site659/mainpageS659P0.html. Updated 2013. Accessed June 11, 2015.
Brain tumors. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website. Available at: http://www.chw.org/display/router.asp?DocID=22484. Accessed June 11, 2015.
General approach to care for children with brain and spinal cord tumors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childbrain/healthprofessional/page3. Updated August 12, 2014. Accessed June 11, 2015.
Pediatric brain and spinal cord tumor center. Comer Children’s Hospital, the University of Chicago website. Available at: http://www.uchicagokidshospital.org/specialties/cancer/brain-spinal/index.html. Accessed July 11, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×