Brain tumors occur when abnormal tissue grows in a child’s brain. Brain tumors may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Both types of brain tumors require treatment and careful monitoring. We also treat tumors that develop in the spine.
Pediatric Brain Tumors
The Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital treats all types of pediatric brain tumors, including:
A benign (noncancerous) type of tumor found near the pituitary gland, craniopharyngiomas usually develop in children ages 5 to 14. Though craniopharyngiomas do not spread, they can affect hormones, vision and other functions, so it is important to treat these tumors.
Cancerous tumors formed from glial cells, the supportive cells in the brain, are called gliomas. This common type of brain tumor is usually highly treatable. Types of glioma include:
- Astrocytomas: The most common type of childhood brain tumor, astrocytomas develop in the brain or spinal cord. High-grade astrocytomas are the most malignant type of brain tumor.
- Ependymoma: These cancerous tumors are a type of glioma that forms in brain or spinal cord tissue. Ependymomas are usually slow growing, but they can reaccur after treatment.
- Oligodendroglioma: This rare type of glioma forms in central nervous system cells called oligodendrocytes. Oligodendrogliomas are slow growing and may be present for years before they are diagnosed.
These rare brain tumors often form in the temporal lobe of the brain. Gangliogliomas are usually benign, but a small percentage grow quickly and become malignant, affecting surrounding tissue.
These cancerous tumors, which are most common in babies and young children, develop in the fetal cells of the brain.
- Medulloblastoma: These fast-growing tumors start in the lower rear part of the brain called the cerebellum and can spread to the spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system. Medulloblastomas are the most common type of embryonal tumor.
- Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET): PNETs usually occur in the cerebrum, but they can develop anywhere in the brain. These fast-growing tumors can spread throughout the brain and to the spinal cord.