TUMOR

Overview

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.

Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain (secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors).

How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate as well as location of a brain tumor determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.

Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor’s size, location and rate of growth.

General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors may include:

  • New onset or change in pattern of headaches
  • Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
  • Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Speech difficulties
  • Confusion in everyday matters
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures, especially in someone who doesn’t have a history of seizures
  • Hearing problems

Risk Factors


In most people with primary brain tumors, the cause of the tumor is not clear. But doctors have identified some factors that may increase your risk of a brain tumor.

Risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Family history of brain tumors

Overview


Pediatric brain tumors are masses or growths of abnormal cells that occur in a child’s brain or the tissue and structures that are near it. Many different types of pediatric brain tumors exist โ€” some are noncancerous (benign) and some are cancerous (malignant).

Treatment and chance of recovery (prognosis) depend on the type of tumor, its location within the brain, whether it has spread, and your child’s age and general health. Because new treatments and technologies are continually being developed, several options may be available at different points in treatment.

Treatment for brain tumors in children is typically quite different from treatment for adult brain tumors, so it’s very important to enlist the expertise and experience of pediatric specialists in neurology and cancer.

Symptoms


Signs and symptoms of a brain tumor in children vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor type, size, location and rate of growth. Some signs and symptoms may not be easy to detect because they’re similar to symptoms of other conditions.

Some of the more common symptoms of a brain tumor in children include:

  • Headaches, which may become more frequent and more severe
  • Feeling of increased pressure in the head
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Abrupt onset of vision problems, such double vision

Other possible signs and symptoms, depending on the tumor location, include:

  • A fuller soft spot (fontanel) on the skull in babies
  • Seizures, especially when there’s no history of seizures
  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of appetite; or in babies, difficulty feeding
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in an arm or a leg
  • Weakness or drooping on one side on the face
  • Confusion, irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Hearing problems

Risk Factors


In most children with primary brain tumors, the cause of the tumor isn’t clear. But certain types of brain tumors, such as medulloblastoma or ependymoma, are more common in children. Though uncommon, a family history of brain tumors or a family history of genetic syndromes may increase the risk of brain tumors in some children.

Overview


A vertebral tumor is a type of spinal tumor affecting the bones or vertebrae of the spine. Spinal tumors that begin within the spinal cord or the covering of the spinal cord (dura) are called spinal cord tumors.

Tumors that affect the vertebrae have often spread (metastasized) from cancers in other parts of the body. But there are some types of tumors that start within the bones of the spine, such as chordoma, chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, plasmacytoma and Ewing’s sarcoma.

A vertebral tumor can affect neurological function by pushing on the spinal cord or nerve roots nearby. As these tumors grow within the bone, they may also cause pain, vertebral fractures or spinal instability.

Whether cancerous or not, a vertebral tumor can be life-threatening and cause permanent disability.

There are many treatment options for vertebral tumors, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, medications or sometimes just monitoring the tumor.

Symptoms


Vertebral tumors can cause different signs and symptoms, especially as tumors grow. The tumors may affect your spinal cord or the nerve roots, blood vessels, or bones of your spine. Vertebral tumor signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain at the site of the tumor due to tumor growth
  • Back pain, often radiating to other parts of your body
  • Back pain that’s worse at night
  • Loss of sensation or muscle weakness, especially in your arms or legs
  • Difficulty walking, sometimes leading to falls
  • Feeling less sensitive to cold, heat and pain
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function
  • Paralysis, which may be mild or severe, and can strike in different areas throughout the body
  • Spinal tumors progress at different rates depending on the type of tumor.

Complications


Both noncancerous and cancerous vertebral tumors can compress spinal nerves, leading to a loss of movement or sensation below the location of the tumor. This can sometimes cause changes in bowel and bladder function. Nerve damage may be permanent.

A vertebral tumor may also damage the bones of the spine and make it unstable, which raises the risk of a sudden fracture or collapse of the spine that could injure the spinal cord.

However, if caught early and treated aggressively, it may be possible to prevent further loss of function and regain nerve function. Depending on its location, a tumor that presses against the spinal cord itself may be life-threatening.

Overview


Embryonal tumors of the central nervous system are cancerous (malignant) tumors that start in the fetal (embryonic) cells in the brain. Embryonal tumors can occur at any age, but most often occur in babies and young children.

Types of embryonal tumors include:

  • Medulloblastomas. The most common type of embryonal tumor, these fast-growing cancerous brain tumors start in the lower back part of the brain, called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is involved in muscle coordination, balance and movement. Medulloblastomas tend to spread through cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to other areas around the brain and spinal cord, though they rarely spread to other areas of the body.
  • Embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes (ETMRs). Rare tumors that are cancerous, ETMRs typically occur in infants and young children. These aggressive tumors most often start in the largest part of the brain, called the cerebrum, which controls thinking and voluntary movement. ETMRs can also occur in other parts of the brain and are often characterized by a certain genetic change.
  • Medulloepitheliomas. These rare, fast-growing cancerous tumors typically occur in the brain or spinal cord of infants and young children.
  • Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. These rare, cancerous tumors are most often found in the cerebellum of infants and children under 3 years of age.
  • Other embryonal tumors. A category called embryonal tumors not otherwise specified includes most cancerous tumors that were formerly called primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs), occurring in the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms


Signs and symptoms of embryonal tumors vary, depending on the type of tumor, location, severity and other factors, such as pressure buildup within the brain. Symptoms may include, for example, headaches, nausea, vomiting, unusual tiredness, dizziness, double vision, unsteady walk, seizures or other issues.