Brain cancer is one of the most common childhood cancers. Here at Intermountain Healthcare, we have physicians who are well-versed in treating pediatric brain tumors caused by brain cancer. Learn more about pediatric brain tumors by reading the information below.

Main Types of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are categorized into two main types, including:

  • Primary Tumor: This type of tumor originates in the brain.
  • Secondary (metastatic) Tumor: This type of tumor develops from a cancer that starts in another part of the body before spreading to the brain via the bloodstream or lymph system. Secondary tumors can begin in the lungs, breasts, skin, kidneys, colon, or other body parts and are much more common in adults than primary tumors.

Common Pediatric Brain Tumors

The most common pediatric brain tumors are all primary tumors and include the following kinds of tumors:

  • Astrocytoma: This kind of brain tumor originate in small star-shaped cells called astrocytes, and can grow in either the brain or spinal cord. In children, this tumor is typically found in the brain stem, cerebellum, and cerebrum. Most astrocytomas will spread very quickly to nearby brain tissue, making it difficult to treat with surgery.
  • Brain Stem Glioma: This tumor of the brain stem is more commonly found in children than adults. It is difficult to remove this tumor via surgery, because the brain stem controls vital functions such as breathing and heart rate.
  • Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET): This brain tumor is also found more often in children than adults, and grows in brain nerve cells. One type of PNET is called a medulloblastoma. Medulloblastomas begin in the cerebellum and grow and spread quickly, but can frequently be treated effectively.

Symptoms of a Brain Tumor

The most common brain tumor symptoms include:

  • Nausea either with or without vomiting. Vomiting due to a brain tumor is more typical in children as opposed to adults.
  • Headaches. Nearly half of people with brain tumors report headaches.
  • Uncontrollable convulsions (seizures) of the body.
  • An inability or difficulty in walking.
  • Weakness or a loss of feeling on one side of the body.
  • Changes in vision and irregular eye movements.
  • Changes in alertness, ranging from increased sleepiness to a coma.
  • Changes in memory, personality, and speech.

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