Brain tumours in children

Brain cancer, or brain tumors, are growths inside the brain. Brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children. There are two types of brain tumors; malignant (cancerous) tumors, and benign (non-cancerous) tumors. Brain tumors that begin in the brain and spread to other parts of the body are called primary brain tumors. Brain tumors that begin somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain are called secondary brain tumors. Secondary brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.

What causes brain cancer?

Tumors form when normal cells mutate. The abnormal cells grow into a mass. Doctors can’t always pinpoint what causes a brain tumor, but they seem to be more common now than in decades past.

Is brain cancer serious?

The brain works as the central control room for the entire body. Therefore, anything that affects brain function is serious. Whether benign or malignant, brain tumors can trigger a host of complications such as seizures, personality changes, vision problems, hearing loss, headaches and even death.

Can I prevent brain cancer?

Without knowing what causes brain cancer, it’s hard to know what to do to prevent it.

How do I know if my child has brain cancer?

A child who has a brain tumor may display any of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches that appear to happen more and more frequently and that are getting worse with each episode
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems, blurred vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision
  • Loss of balance, sensation, or movement in one or more limbs.
  • Speech difficulties and hearing problems.
  • Confusion
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Unexplained seizures
  • Hormonal (endocrine) disorders

How do I treat brain cancer?

The treatment of your child�s brain tumor depends on the type of tumor and where in the brain it�s located. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Surgery – doctors usually try to remove the entire tumor, but if it is located too close to important parts of the brain, they may only be able to remove part of it.
  • Radiotherapy – radiotherapy is the use of x-rays to kill the cells forming the tumor. Doctors use as low a dose as possible to avoid killing healthy cells
  • Chemotherapy – drugs that stop cells from growing. Because of the danger involved in radiotherapy, many doctors prefer to use chemotherapy for children.
  • Steroid therapy – drugs that reduce the swelling around the tumor.
  • Sometimes more than one treatment is used. Regardless of what type of medical treatment is used, there are always side effects, most of which are temporary, but some of which can be permanent.

Should I call the doctor?

Always call the doctor if your child appears to be showing signs of a brain tumor. Your doctor can run a series of tests that can help him determine if your child has a brain tumor and what the best course of treatment would be most successful.

What you need to know about brain cancer

  • Brain tumors occur when mutated cells form a mass.
  • Brain tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-malignant).
  • Doctors aren’t really sure what causes most brain tumors.
  • The type of treatment for a tumor depends on the type of tumor and where it is located.

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