Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer—Child

Definition

A brain tumor is a disease in which cells grow uncontrollably in the brain. Eventually these cells form a mass of tissue called a tumor. If the tumor invades nearby tissue or spreads to other parts of the body, then it is a malignant tumor. A malignant tumor is also known as cancer. Brain cancer can fall into 2 categories:
  • Primary brain cancer—begins in the brain
  • Secondary or metastatic brain cancer—cancer started somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain. These are also known as metastatic tumors.
If the tumor does not invade other tissue it is considered a benign tumor. Although a benign tumor does not spread, it can cause damage by pressing on nearby brain tissue.
Brain Tumor
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Causes

The cause of most primary brain cancer and benign tumors is unknown. Researchers believe that the tumors may be due to defects in genes. These defects trigger cells to grow uncontrollably.Secondary brain cancer is caused by the cancer spreading to the brain from another site.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your child’s chance of developing brain tumors include:

Symptoms

Symptoms depend on how large the tumor is and where it is located. Tumors can increase pressure and cause headaches. These headaches are different than the typical headaches that everyone gets. The headaches may:
  • Worsen over a period of weeks to months
  • Be worse in the morning or cause you to wake during the night
  • Worsen with change of posture, straining, or coughing
The tumor can also affect the function of nearby tissue and cause:
  • Nausea and vomiting, especially early morning vomiting
  • Trouble with balance
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Vision or hearing changes, including double vision
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with speech

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