Published: Aug. 26, 2011
Updated: Aug. 26, 2011
Brain tumors can be either benign (noncancerous) or cancerous. Both cancerous and benign tumors can press on surrounding brain tissue, causing serious disruptions in behavior and function.
Though benign tumors will not spread to other organs, if they press on surrounding tissues, they can still be life threatening.
Some of the most common types of brain tumors that form in children are:
Symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer. Many of the symptoms of childhood cancers can also be symptoms of other diseases. Be sure to consult your doctor if your child has symptoms that seem unusual for him or her.
Symptoms of a brain tumor may include:
Brain tumors are assigned grades according to how fast they grow and how different-from-normal their cells look to a pathologist examining them under a microscope.
Factors that influence the outcome of a brain tumor include the tumor’s grade, the age of the patient, where the tumor is, and whether it has spread to other parts of the central nervous system.
Grades range from I (low) to IV (high).
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are the standard treatments for many childhood cancers. Your child may receive one or more treatments depending on the stage or grade of the cancer, your child’s general health, and other factors.
For most brain tumors, surgery is both a diagnostic and treatment tool. A biopsy will be performed to remove a tissue sample. If cancer cells are found, the surgeon may remove as much of the tumor as possible during the same procedure.
Some tumors can be cured by surgery alone, or surgery combined with radiation therapy. If a tumor is in the brain stem or other vital area, surgery may not be possible because it would damage normal brain function.
Chemotherapy may be used to kill cancer additional cancer cells after surgery and radiation therapy, especially for high-grade tumors.