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Brain Tumors in Children

There are several different types of children's brain tumors, such as benign, malignant, primary, and secondary. Possible symptoms of brain tumors include trouble with balance or speech and headaches that are worse in the morning. These symptoms may be the result of a tumor pressing on a nerve or a buildup of fluid within the skull.

Children and Brain Tumors: An Overview

Childhood brain tumors are a diverse group of diseases that are characterized by the abnormal growth of tissue contained within the skull. Brain tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Other than leukemia and lymphoma, brain tumors are the most common type of cancer that occurs in children.

Understanding the Brain

The brain controls vital functions, such as memory and learning, the senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch), and emotion. The brain also controls other parts of the body, including muscles, organs, and blood vessels. The three major parts of the brain include the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. Each area controls different activities.

Types of Brain Tumors in Children

Brain cancer in children can be categorized into several different types of brain tumors. The different types of brain tumors in children include:
  • Benign brain tumors
  • Malignant brain tumors
  • Primary brain tumors
  • Secondary brain tumors (also known as metastatic cancer).
Benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells, but as they grow, they can cause problems in the brain by pressing on sensitive areas. Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and are generally more serious.
Primary brain cancer is cancer that begins in the brain. Secondary brain cancer is cancer that begins somewhere else in the body but spreads to the brain. In children, most brain tumors are primary tumors.
There are many different types of primary brain tumors in children. The most common ones are gliomas, which begin in glial cells. Types of gliomas that are commonly seen in children include:
When people say "brain cancer," they usually are referring to a glioma.
Other common types of brain tumors in children not starting in the glial cells include:
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Germ cell tumor of the brain
  • Pineoblastoma.
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