Brain Tumors In Children
Brain tumors are the most common solid tumor in children and adolescents, affecting about 5,000 children in the U.S. each year. Several different types of brain tumors can occur in children, including astrocytomas , gliomas, ependymomas and medulloblastomas.
Learn more about brain tumors in children.
Symptoms Based On Tumor Location
Some symptoms can provide insights into where the tumor might be located within the brain.
- Vision problems. Vision problems can be due to a tumor located in or around the pituitary gland, optic nerve, occipital lobe, or temporal lobe.
- Speech, reading, and writing difficulties. These difficulties may be caused by a tumor near the temporal lobe or parietal lobe.
- Hearing problems. These may be caused by a tumor near the cranial nerves or temporal lobe.
- Swallowing problems. There may be a tumor near the cerebellum or in or near cranial nerves.
- Trouble with movement in the hands, arms, feet, and legs, or difficulty walking. This could be caused by a tumor near the cerebellum, frontal lobe, or brainstem.
- Balance issues. Balance issues may indicate a tumor near the cerebellum, brainstem, or the base of the brain.
- Facial numbness, weakness, or pain. This may also occur with a tumor involving the brainstem.
What Is A Brain Tumour
A brain tumour is a lump of abnormal cells growing in your brain. Your brain controls all the parts of your body and its functions and produces your thoughts. Depending on where it is, a tumour in your brain can affect these functions.
When cells grow abnormally they may form a lump called a tumour. Tumours can be benign or malignant.
A benign tumour grows slowly and stays in one place. It is unlikely to spread to another part of your body.
Benign tumours are not cancerous. But a benign brain tumour may cause damage just by being there and pressing on your brain or nearby structures. This can be life-threatening, or affect other parts of your body, and may need urgent treatment.
A malignant tumour is cancerous. It can spread to other areas of your brain, or your body. It can also be called brain cancer.
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What Are The Types Of Brain Tumors
Researchers have identified more than 150 different brain tumors.
Healthcare providers categorize primary tumors as glial or non-glial and benign or malignant .
Many types of brain tumors can also form in your spinal cord or column.
Usually benign brain tumors
Types of brain tumors that are usually benign include:
Cancerous brain tumors
Approximately 78% of cancerous primary brain tumors are gliomas. These tumors develop in glial cells, which surround and assist nerve cells. Types of gliomas include:
- Astrocytoma: These tumors are the most common type of glioma. They form in the star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes. They can form in many parts of your brain, but most commonly occur in your cerebrum.
- Ependymomas: These tumors often occur near the ventricles in your brain. Ependymomas develop from ependymal cells .
- Glioblastoma : These tumors form in glial cells called astrocytes. GBMs are the fastest-growing astrocytoma.
- Oligodendroglioma: These uncommon tumors begin in cells that create myelin .
Medulloblastoma is another type of cancerous brain tumor. These tumors are fast growing and form at the base of your skull. Theyre the most common cancerous brain tumor in children.
Brain Tumours That Affect The Pituitary Gland
Because the pituitary gland has such varied functions, tumours in this area can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms are often due to changes in the levels of the hormones that the gland produces and there is a range of reasons why those hormone levels may fluctuate, hence delaying the diagnosis of a tumour.
Symptoms caused by hormonal fluctuations include:
- Delayed puberty in children
- Loss of muscle mass in adults
- Easy bruising of the skin, often combined with muscle weakness
- Diabetes insipidus, caused by problems with a hormone called vasopressin , commonly known as antidiuretic hormone . Symptoms are extreme thirst and/or excessive urination
Professional medical advice should be sought to check the cause of these symptoms as soon as possible, although they are also more commonly symptomatic of other illnesses or diseases.
However, if no definite alternative cause for your symptoms can be found and if you suspect something is really wrong, and if youre experiencing a combination of these brain tumour symptoms together or in succession, then insist that you or your family member gets referred to a neurologist and for an MRI scan. Early detection and treatment may avoid acute complications later on.
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Recognizing Signs And Symptoms
After A Diagnosis Of Brain Cancer
After finding out you have brain cancer, you may feel shocked, upset, anxious or confused. These are normal responses. A diagnosis of brain cancer affects each person differently. For most it will be a difficult time, however some people manage to continue with their normal daily activities.
Your specialist will arrange for a range of health professionals to plan your treatment. This will be based on several factors including the type, size, location and genetic make-up of the cancer as well as, your age and general health, the types of symptoms you have and your needs and preferences.
Find out more about the best cancer care for brain cancer:
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What Are The Common Causes Of A Brain Tumor
The causes of brain tumors are not yet clearly known however, there are common risk factors or triggers that may cause a brain tumor:
- Being overweight or obese increases the risk of certain types of brain tumors.
- An unhealthy lifestyle including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may trigger abnormal cell growth.
- The risk of getting brain tumors becomes higher with increasing age.
- Repeated exposure to radiation through ionizing radiation, X-rays, and computed tomography scans, power lines, nuclear plants, mobile phones, and cell phone towers may trigger tumors.
- Exposure to certain harmful chemicals may trigger a brain tumor. Examples include diesel exhaust, coal tar volatiles, tobacco smoke, arsenic compounds, cadmium compounds, nickel compounds, and more.
- People who have had cancer such as leukemia as a child have a higher risk of brain tumors as an adult. Adults who have had cancer also may have a chance of getting brain tumors, but further research is needed to confirm this finding.
- In some rare cases, brain tumors may be genetically inherited. If a lot of people in a family have had brain tumors, an individual may be at an increased risk of the condition.
- Pain does not respond to OTC pain relievers.
- Worsens with coughing, sneezing, or straining
- May dull or sharp or stabbing
- Generalized or localized to a specific area
- May last for days or weeks
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor About A Brain Tumor Diagnosis
If youve been diagnosed with a brain tumor, it may be helpful to ask your healthcare provider the following questions:
- Is the tumor malignant or benign?
- What kind of tumor do I have?
- What type of treatment is best for me?
- Will my treatment cause side effects?
- What type of specialists will be part of my care?
- Whats my prognosis?
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Signs Of Brain Metastases
Heres a surprising fact: The most common brain tumors dont actually start in your brain. Brain metastases, or metastatic brain tumors, spread to your brain from other parts of your body most often from your lungs, breasts, skin, kidneys or colon.
A person with a known history of these cancers who develops any of these neurological symptoms should be evaluated, Dr. Barnett says.
How Is Brain Cancer Treated
There are several treatments for brain cancer. Treatment for primary brain cancer will be different from treatment for cancers that have metastasized from other sites.
You may receive one or more treatments depending on the type, size, and location of your brain tumor. Your age and general health will also be factors.
Brain tumor treatments include:
Theres no way to prevent brain cancer, but you can reduce your risk by avoiding:
- exposure to pesticides and insecticides
- exposure to carcinogenic chemicals
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Brain Tumor Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors donât know why some cells begin to form into tumor cells. It may have something to do with a personâs genes or his or her environment, or both. Some potential brain tumor causes and risk factors may include:
- Cancers that spread from other parts of the body
- Certain genetic conditions that predispose a person to overproduction of certain cells
- Exposure to some forms of radiation
What Treatments Are Available
Treatment options vary depending on the type, grade, size and location of the tumor whether it has spread and your age and general health. The goal of treatment may be curative or focus on relieving symptoms . Treatments are often used in combination with one another. The goal is to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible through surgery to minimize the chance of recurrence. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are used to treat tumors that cannot be removed by surgery alone. For example, surgery may remove the bulk of the tumor and a small amount of residual tumor near a critical structure can later be treated with radiation.
Sometimes the best treatment is observation. For example, benign, slow growing tumors that are small and have few symptoms may be observed with routine MRI scans every year until their growth or symptoms necessitate surgery. Observation may be the best option for people who are older or with other health conditions.
Medications are used to control some of the common side effects of brain tumors.
Image-guided surgery technologies, tumor fluorescence, intraoperative MRI/CT, and functional brain mapping have improved the surgeonâs ability to precisely locate the tumor, define the tumorâs borders, avoid injury to vital brain areas, and confirm the amount of tumor removal while in the operating room.
Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy
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When To Seek Care
If you think you might have a brain tumor, keep a diary of whats going on. Be sure to include your symptoms, how often they happen and when. Its very likely that you dont have a brain tumor, but any worrisome neurological symptoms should always be checked out, says Dr. Danish.
Regardless of the rarity of brain tumors, it is important to recognize the symptoms and see a doctor if you think anythings off. Signs of a tumor vary, depending on the tumors location and size, and the early symptoms can be obscure, Dr. Danish says. But the quicker we find a tumor and start treatment, the better your outcome will be, so wed always rather you come in if you think you may have a tumor, rather than brush it off.
Warning Signs Of A Brain Tumor
How can you know if you have a brain tumor? Paying attention to these warning signs may help you get an earlier diagnosis.
Although brain cancer can be a scary diagnosis, you may be able to stop cancer in its tracks if you seek treatment quickly and are aware of the warning signs.
Here are eight major symptoms of brain tumors:
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Primary Vs Metastatic Brain Tumors
Primary brain tumors are tumors that start in the brain. Examples of tumors that most often originate in the brain include meningioma and glioma. Very rarely, these tumors can break away and spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. More commonly, tumors spread to the brain from other parts of the body.
Metastatic brain tumors, also called secondary brain tumors, are malignant tumors that originate as cancer elsewhere in the body and then metastasize to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are about four times more common than primary brain tumors. They can grow rapidly, crowding or invading nearby brain tissue.
Common cancers that can spread to the brain are:
What Are The Signs Of Brain Tumors
The symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the type, size, and location of the tumor in the brain. Some of the signs of tumors in specific regions of your brain are listed below.
Symptoms include changes in personality, increased aggression, unusual gait, and an inability to execute speech.
Symptoms include an inability to understand speech, loss of senses, and problems with reading and writing.
Symptoms usually include seizures commonly linked to unusual smells, forgetfulness, especially when it comes to words, and short-term memory loss.
A tumor in the occipital lobe typically leads to issues with your vision.
Some of the symptoms are difficulties in coordinating your movements, spontaneous eye movement, stiffness in the neck, and nausea and dizziness.
Symptoms include issues with swallowing, droopy eyelids or mouth , issues with speech, and double vision.
Symptoms include weakness in your hands and legs, numbness, and an inability to control your bladder or bowel.
Symptoms include mood swings, high blood pressure, diabetes, enlarged hands and feet, and infertility. Women with this condition may also have irregular periods.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider/go To The Hospital
If you have concerning neurological symptoms, you should talk to your healthcare provider. A prompt diagnosis gives you the best chance of having a good outcome.
And if you have already been diagnosed with brain cancer, its important that you and the people who take care of you learn to recognize the signs of complications or worsening brain cancer so you can get the medical care you need.
Signs that you should see a healthcare provider if you have brain cancer include:
- Persistent vomiting
- Swelling of any part of your body
- A new seizure or worsening seizures
You and the people you live with should also know how to recognize the side effects of cancer treatments that you are receiving that may warrant medical intervention.
What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Cancer
The symptoms of brain cancer depend on the size and location of the brain tumor. Brain cancer shares many symptoms with several less serious conditions, especially in the early stages.
Many of these symptoms are incredibly common and unlikely to indicate brain cancer. But if youve been experiencing these symptoms for more than a week, if theyve come on suddenly, if theyre not relieved by over-the-counter pain medications, or if youre alarmed by any of them, its a good idea to have them checked out by a doctor.
Common brain cancer symptoms include:
- headaches that are usually worse in the morning
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Early Warning Signs Of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer symptoms vary depending on the type, extent and location of the tumor, as well as the patients age and healthy history, and often mimic those caused by other medical conditions, so its important to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
Early signs of brain cancer may include:
- A headache that changes depending on the time of day and position of the head and gets worse over time
Common symptoms of brain cancer may also include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Overproduction or underproduction of breast milk
- Cushings syndrome
- High blood pressure
When To See A Gp
See a GP if you have these types of symptoms, particularly if you have a headache that feels different from the type of headache you usually get, or if headaches are getting worse.
You may not have a brain tumour, but these types of symptoms should be checked.
If the GP cannot identify a more likely cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a doctor who specialises in the brain and nervous system for further assessment and tests, such as a brain scan.
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Who Do Brain Tumors Affect
Brain tumors affect children and adults and can develop at any age. Theyre slightly more common in people assigned male at birth than people assigned female at birth .
Meningioma, which is usually benign, is the only type of brain tumor thats more common in people AFAB.
The most serious type of brain tumor, glioblastoma, is becoming more common among people who are as the general population ages.
Learn More About The Areas Of The Brain
The cerebrum is the uppermost and largest part of the brain. It processes sensation, generates thought, and controls conscious activity. The cerebrum has two sides the right and the left hemispheres that each control the opposite side of the body and each side is divided into four lobes with specific functions: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the occipital lobe.
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