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Brain Tumors in Children

What Are the Symptoms?

Pediatric brain tumor symptoms depend on the tumor size, type, and location. Symptoms of brain cancer in children may be caused when a tumor presses on a nerve or damages a certain area of the brain. Symptoms may also be caused when the brain swells or fluid builds up within the skull.
Common symptoms of brain tumors in children include:
  • Headaches (that are usually worse in the morning)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Changes in speech, vision, or hearing
  • Problems balancing or walking
  • Changes in mood, personality, or ability to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • Muscle jerking or twitching (seizures or convulsions)
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
Early brain tumor symptoms in children can be vague. Therefore, it is not uncommon for a child with early symptoms to have his or her condition diagnosed as migraines, school phobia, anorexia, or other common problems. People whose children have possible brain tumor symptoms should see a doctor as soon as possible, because only a doctor can diagnose and treat the problem.

Making a Diagnosis

If a child has possible brain cancer symptoms, the doctor will need to perform a physical exam, ask about the patient's personal and family medical history, and recommend additional tests and procedures in order to make a brain cancer diagnosis.
Exams and tests that are used when diagnosing brain cancer may include:
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Biopsy.
(Click Brain Tumor Diagnosis for more information about diagnosing brain tumors in children.)
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