Pediatric Brain Tumors

1 What are Pediatric Brain Tumors?

Pediatric brain tumors are abnormal cell growths that take place in the brain tissues or structures near it. There are several types of pediatric brain tumors.

Some of these tumors are malignant or cancerous, while others are not or benign. The chance of recovery and the treatment needed depend on the type of tumor, its location, whether it has spread, the child’s age, and health state.

New technologies and types of treatment are being developed, hence, more options are becoming available to patients. Treating pediatric brain tumors is different from the treatment process used for adult brain tumors. It is vital to seek expertise of pediatric specialists for these procedures.

2 Making a Diagnosis

To receive a diagnosis of pediatric brain tumors your child will need to undergo a thorough physical examination that may include:

  • Neurological exam
  • CT or Computed tomography scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • X-Ray
  • Angiogram
  • Myelogram
  • Lumbar puncture or spinal tap
  • Positron emission tomography

3 Treatment

Treating pediatric brain tumor requires utmost care, especially in children, since their brains and bodies are still developing. Many factors are there to be considered. These include:

  • The location of the tumor
  • Whether the tumor is malignant or benign
  • The child’s age and health condition
  • Parent’s preferences
  • Risk factors

The most common option for treatment is surgery. If the tumor is benign and located in a “safe” zone, it can be safely and completely removed by surgery. On the other hand, if the tumor is malignant or cancerous, doctors use the combination of surgery and radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy is used solely in zones that are not safe for surgery; however, radiation is not used for very young children since this may have an effect to their developing brains. Additionally, if the malignant tumor is growing rapidly, chemotherapy may be advised.

For benign tumors that do not cause any significant symptoms, immediate treatment may not be needed. Careful observation or monitoring may be an option; the child may not need any treatment if the growth of tumor does not progress.

4 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with pediatric brain tumors.

The risks of having pediatric brain tumors are craniofacial anomalies, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, neuromuscular disorders, and obesity.

When left untreated, several complications, such as neurocognitive impairment, failure to thrive, behavioral problems, and in severe cases, cor pulmonale or abnormal enlargement of the right side of the heart can occur.

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