Brain Tumors
Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 06/04/2001  Last Updated: 06/04/2001

Patient Education

What are the types of brain tumors in children?

The common brain tumors seen in children are gliomas (pronounced as gli-o-ma), astrocytoma (pronounced as Astro-si-to-ma), medulloblastoma, ependymoma, craniopharyngioma (pronounced as crane-o-pha-rin-gio-ma). Rarely lymphoma may be seen. Occasionally, blood Cancer may spread to the brain.

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

Depending on the area of the brain that is involved, symptoms may vary. Tumors in the small brain usually cause vomiting, headache, and visual symptoms such as blurring of vision, squint, loss of vision. They have giddiness and inability to maintain balance. In the case of tumors in the big brain, children may have seizures (fits), headache, and weakness or paralysis in the limbs.

How is the diagnosis of brain tumors made?

The diagnosis of a brain tumor is made by CT SCAN or MRI of the brain. Sometimes a biopsy of the tumor may be required to come to a diagnosis.

Which are other conditions that mimic brain tumor?

Conditions such as brain abscess, intracranial bleeds, granulomas in the brain can cause similar symptoms as that of brain tumors and need to be excluded out. MRI and CT usually can identify these conditions.

What is the treatment of brain tumor?

Surgery with maximum attempt to remove as much tumor as possible remains mainstay therapy. With advances in surgery such as laser and stereotactic surgery, a large number of tumors can be debulked. In the case of brainstem glioma, surgery is difficult and radiotherapy is the treatment of choice. After surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are required for most of the tumors. For tumors involving the visual pathways, radiotherapy is required only if tumors cannot be excised completely.

What is the long term survival of patients with brain tumors?

The long term prognosis depends on the type of tumor, the stage of the tumor, location, and treatment modalities available. Impaired language and intellectual functions with disturbed growth may be seen as a residual effect of radiation.

Patients with brainstem gliomas have a poor prognosis as surgery is difficult and the tumor is highly spreading. Similarly, cerebral astrocytomas are highly malignant tumors and the outcome is 30-40% 5 years survival.


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