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Pediatric Brain Tumor

The pediatric brain tumor is caused by an abnormal growth of cells in the brain, tissue or structures near it. Some of these can be benign (noncancerous) while others can be malignant (cancerous). The type of tumor, its location, its spread, age and general health of your child will determine treatment and recovery. Thanks to the new technologies, there are several treatment options available at Rainbow Children’s Hospital. Brain tumor treatment for children is quite different than that for adults. Therefore, for proper child care it is important that you take the help of an expert and experienced pediatrician in cancer and neurology. The symptoms and signs of a brain tumor in children depend on the tumor type, location, size, and growth rate. Some of these signs will be easy to detect. Here are the most common brain tumor symptoms in children that can vary depending on the location of the tumor: Headaches that are becoming more severe and frequent Unexplained vomiting and nausea Feeling increased pressure in the head Abrupt onsetting of vision issues like double vision Abnormal eye movement Trouble swallowing A fontanel or a fuller soft spot on the babies’ skull Loss of appetite or difficulty feeding the baby Seizures, especially when there wasn’t one before Slurred speech Difficulty maintaining balance Loss of sensation or weakness in a leg or an arm Dropping or weakness on half side of the face Trouble walking Memory problems Behavior or personality changes Irritability Confusion Hearing problems

The cause of a pediatric tumor is still unknown to pediatric oncologists. Most of the pediatric brain tumors are primary brain tumors starting in the brain or in the tissues near it. The tumor starts to develop when there is an error or a mutation in the DNA of a normal cell. Because of this mutation, cells start growing and dividing at an increasing rate while healthy cells die. This results in an abnormal growth of cells forming a tumor. Some of these can be cancerous while others are benign. In the case of a pediatric brain tumor, the exact cause might not always be clear. Some brain tumors like ependymoma and medulloblastoma are more common in children. In some rare pediatric oncology cases, a family history of genetic syndromes and a family history of brain tumors can increase the risk of pediatric brain tumors. FAQs

1. What are the different brain tumor grades? Once your child has been diagnosed at a children’s hospital with a brain tumor, the next step is determining the grade of the tumor. The grade displays the percentage of healthy cells in the tumor when it is seen under a microscope. The lower the grade, the better chance your child will have for recovery. Here are the different grades for brain tumor:

Grade I - In this case, the tissue is benign or noncancerous with slow-growing, normal-looking cells. Grade II - In this case, the tissue is malignant or cancerous with slow-growing and less normal-looking cells. Grade III - In this case, the tissue is malignant with actively growing, very abnormal-looking cells. Grade IV - In this case, the tissue is malignant with a quickly growing, mostly abnormal cells. 2. Do all brain tumors mean brain cancer? No. Not all brain tumors are brain cancer. In fact, more than two-thirds of all brain tumors are benign or noncancerous.

3. What is the difference between benign and malignant brain tumors? The level of abnormality of the cell determines if a tumor is benign or malignant. A tumor is benign if it is made up of cells that look normal. However, if the tumor is made up of abnormal-looking cells, it is malignant. Benign tumors can cause symptoms and require treatment. But, they are not cancer. Even though the literal description of benign is gentle, it is not an accurate description of tumors. A benign tumor is still a serious medical condition. That is why some doctors use the term non-malignant for describing brain tumors with noncancerous cells. A malignant tumor is a cancer. They are more aggressive than benign tumor and they grow faster. They can even spread to other areas of the brain as well as to the spinal cord, which can be deadly.

Dr. Varshini Bandi

CONSULTANT, Dept of Pediatric Hematology, oncology and BMT

Rainbow Children's Hospital, Hydernagar