Pediatric Brain Cancer

Pediatric Brain Cancer

Brain and spinal cord tumors are masses of abnormal cells in the brain or spinal cord that have grown out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body. 

In most other parts of the body, it is very important to distinguish between benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors. Benign tumors do not invade nearby tissues or spread to distant areas, so in other parts of the body they are almost never life threatening. One of the main reasons malignant tumors (cancers) are so dangerous is because they can spread throughout the body.

Although brain tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body, most of them can spread through the brain and spinal cord tissue. Even so-called benign tumors can, as they grow, press on and destroy normal brain tissue, causing damage that is often disabling and can sometimes cause death. This is why doctors usually speak of “brain tumors” rather than “brain cancers.” The main concerns with brain and spinal cord tumors are how fast they grow, how readily they spread through the rest of the brain or spinal cord, and if they can be removed or treated and not come back. But both benign and malignant tumors can be life threatening.

Brain and spinal cord tumors in children tend to be different from those in adults. They often form in different places, develop from different cell types, and may have a different treatment and prognosis (outlook). 

        

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