Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

A brain or spinal cord tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord develop and grow out of control. The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS).

Tumors can be identified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors don’t spread around the body and typically have no potential to be fatal. Malignant tumors are more dangerous as they can spread to other parts of the body. However, the distinction is less necessary for brain tumors as both benign and malignant forms of this disease can be life-threateningly dangerous due to the fragility and space of the nervous system.

What are the Symptoms of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors?

Symptoms of brain and spinal cord tumors may develop gradually or appear suddenly from events such as seizures.

General symptoms include:

  • Headaches (which may worsen with time)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Crossed eyes or blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Chronic drowsiness

How are Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Diagnosed?

Tumors are more likely to have a positive outlook the earlier they are detected. If a child possesses any risk factors or inherited or genetic conditions that may be linked to brain or spinal cord cancer, doctors recommend frequent medical and physical exams in order to spot any early developments.

If results are abnormal, your child’s doctor may recommend a neurologist or neurosurgeon for further screening. Tests to spot a brain and spinal cord tumor may include biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, or positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

How are Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Treated?

The main treatment options for brain and spinal cord tumors include various forms of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy drugs. Due to the individual qualities of patients and the range of uses for each form of treatment, every case of brain and spinal cord cancer will differ and a child’s treatment will be specific to them. It is likely that a child will receive some combination of the mentioned treatments.