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Know about pediatric brain tumor

Brain Tumor is a collection or a mass of abnormal cells in the brain. The skull which surrounds the brain is very rigid and if anything grows inside it cause problems, like the pressure inside the brain can increase and damage the brain which is life threatening.

Among all the malignancies that children are confronted with Brain Tumor is the most common one.15% to 20% of the children are affected with this disease. In spite of advance treatment many children still die of brain cancer, on account of lack of awareness of the clinical signs and symptoms of brain tumors. The seriousness of the disease depends upon the type of the tumor, its location in the nervous system and the age of the child. However, tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) remain a great challenge. Pediatric brain tumors are different from those that arise in adulthood. In the past few2 decades there is a lot of improvement in diagnoses and treatment in brain tumor disease. The number of children survivors has also increased.

Causes of pediatric brain tumor:

In most of the cases the cause is not known.

  • Pediatric brain tumors are primary brain tumors—they either start in the brain or in the tissue
    close to it.
  • When normal cells have errors in their DNA, primary brain tumors begin.
  • When healthy cells die, these errors allow cells to grow and divide very fast.
  • The result is a mass of abnormal cells form a tumor.

Symptoms of brain tumors in children:

  1. Headaches, many children suffer from this.
  2. Nausea or vomiting is common due to the pressure that increases in the brain.
  3. Sleepiness, lethargic.
  4. Changes in vision, hearing or speech.
  5. Problem in balancing oneself.., tumbles and falls
  6. Seizures even laughing.
  7. The size of the head grows to an abnormal size.

    It’s better to see a doctor immediately if these symptoms are found.

Risk factors of pediatric brain tumors:

Most of the time the cause for brain tumor is not known, but some factors are:

  • the child may be the first born and weight must have been more during birth,
  • siblings must be having seizures or epilepsy or the mother herself must have had
  • epilepsy or a stroke at younger age.
  • mother must have continued smoking during pregnancy or exposed to radiation earlier
  • children might have been exposed to insecticides.
  • exposed to farm animals and to sick pets.
  • 5% of the brain tumors can be inherited.
  • exposure to infections and viruses.

Types of brain tumors in children:

The types of brain tumor are:

  1. PRIMARY: Starting in the brain.
  2. METASTATIC: Starting in other parts of the body and spreading to the brain.
  3. BEGIN Slow-growth, non-cancerous. They are difficult to treat if they are growing in or around certain structures of the brain.
  4. MALIGNANT: Cancerous. They grow quickly and can spread near the original tumor and to the other parts of the brain. They are very aggressive.
  5. GLIOMA( ASTROCYTOMAS): This is a type most common in children in the age group of 5 and 8 years

The grade of an astrocytoma depends on growing stages:

There are four main types of stages/grades in children:

  • GRADE 1—PILOCYTIC ASTROCYTOMA: In this stage the tumor grows slowly and is the most common brain tumor in children. If it develops in the cerebellum, it can be removed only through surgery.
  • GRADE 2 –DIFFUSE ASTROCYTOMA: This tumor spreads to the surrounding normal brain tissue, through surgery also it is difficult to remove.
  • GRADE 3—ANAPLASTIC ASTROCYTOMA: This brain tumor is malignant. Needs a combination of treatments.
  • GRADE 4—GLIOBLASTOMA MULTIFORME: It grows quickly and causes pressure on the brain. It is of a malignant type. It also requires a combination of treatments.

OTHER PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS ARE:

BRAIN STEM GLIOMAS, CHOROID PLEXUS TUMORS,CRANIOPHARYNOGIOMAS, OPTIC NERVE GLIOMAS and so on.

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SURGERY

As part of the treatment in infants and children it is surgery to remove the tumor or a biopsy is taken. The surgeon may remove as much as possible the tumor to reduce the pressure caused by the tumor. For low-grade and slow-growing tumors surgery is the best treatment.

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RADIATION THERAPY

 Beams of high-energy radiation is focused on the tumor tissue and a small amount of radiation on the surrounding tissue. On some tumors additional radiation is given to the entire brain and spinal cord. Radiation is given carefully to infants and toddlers as their brain is in the growing stage.

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CHEMOTHERAPY

For aggressive and high-grade tumors also chemotherapy is used. Chemotherapy is given as pills, intravenous, or injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid or into the cavity that is left after surgery.

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Brain metastases in children:

Brain metastases are not common among children, who have solid tumors. Survival rates have increased, at the same time children are at a risk of developing metastases. The most common tumors causing brain metastases, receive intensive miltiagent chemotherapy and high dosage of chemotherapy. The effective systematic chemotherapy has changed the patterns of brain metastases in children. Patients with radio resistant brain metastases may benefit from surgery or by administering higher doses of radiation or both—surgery and radiation.

Boosting foods for pediatric brain tumor:

The best way to stay healthy, is to give children foods that supports their immune system, like—broccoli which has vitamin C, A and E in it; Yogurt—Vitamin D; Dark leafy greens; Tea—can fight antioxidants; Citrus fruits—lemon, lime, oranges; Garlic, turmeric, ginger and chicken broth.

Prevention of pediatric brain tumor:

There’s is no way to prevent brain cancer, but the risk can be reduced:

  1. avoid pregnant women and children getting exposed to pesticides and insecticides.
  2. avoid exposure to carcinogenic chemicals.
  3. avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.

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