Know the causes of brain tumor in children
Brain tumours are abnormal brain cell growth inside the skull. They are the most common types of cancer among children. Some are benign tumours, which aren’t cancerous and the other is malignant tumours which are cancerous. If the tumour puts pressure on certain areas of the brain, it can affect various body functions. When discovered early enough, brain tumours are usually treatable.
Causes of brain tumour
- The type of tissue involved
- The exact site of the tumour
- Whether it is cancerous or not
Bain tumours can directly destroy brain cells and also can indirectly damage cells by pushing on the other parts of the brain.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of brain tumours depend on the size of the tumour, where it is and how it affects that part of the brain. There’s only fixed space in the skull and as the tumour grows, there’s a rise in pressure which can cause symptoms such as:
- Vomiting or feeling sick
- Eye problems such as blurring or double vision
- Feeling tired more quickly
- Feeling extremely sleepy
- Losing interest in day-to-day things
The brain tumour can also cause problems with balance and walk weakness on one side of the body, or changes in the behaviour. If your child has any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your family doctor.
Diagnosis of brain tumours
Tests are very important because they help the cancer specialist to plan the best treatment for your child. A doctor who thinks a child might have a brain tumour will do a thorough neurological exam and order imaging tests of the brain: a CT (computed tomography) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging, or possibly both.
They’ll usually check other things like balance, coordination, sensation, and reflexes. Your child may also need to have their eyesight and hearing tested.
Treatment for Brain tumours
As there are different types of brain tumours, treatment won’t be the same for everyone. The doctors will look at the type of brain tumour, its size and where it is in the brain before deciding on the best treatment. These are the main treatments used to treat brain tumours are:
- Surgery: A surgeon specialising in brain tumours (neurosurgeon) will operate to remove as much of the tumour as possible.
- Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy treats cancer by using high-energy rays that destroy the cancer cells. It may also be used as the main treatment if surgery is not possible.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to get rid of cancer cells and may be given when cancer cannot be completely treated with an operation. Chemotherapy is given by an oncologist which is used to treat medulloblastoma and also more commonly to treat other types of brain tumours.
Medications used to treat brain tumours in children include:
- Corticosteroids for reducing brain swelling
- Diuretics (water pills) to reduce brain swelling and pressure
- Anticonvulsants to reduce or prevent seizures
- Pain medicines