Childhood atypical teratoid: What to expect?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Dec 28, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Atypical teratoid is rare condition.
  • Aggressive tumours occur in the central nervous system.
  • It is very difficult to cure this condition.
  • Older children with atypical teratoidtend to do better than younger children.

Atypical teratoid is rare condition in which the aggressive tumours occur in the central nervous system. It commonly affects the cerebellum and the brain stem. It usually occurs by the age 3 but it can affect the older children as well. These aggressive tumours are part of a larger group of tumours which usually occur outside the brain. The tumour may begin in part one part of the brain and it can spread to other parts of the brain or body.

Childhood atypical teratoid

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition may develop within days or weeks. Some common signs and symptoms include: Headache, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, fatigue, balance and coordination difficulties and hyrdrocephalus.


It can be diagnosed with a physical examination which includes a neurological function test of reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alterness. Diagnostic imaging or biopsy can also be done to diagnose this condition.


The common treatment options for this condition include:

  • Neurosurgery –complete surgical removal is generally not possibledue to the rapid growth of these tumours
  • Radiation therapy – Since this condition commonly occurs in children under 3, reduced intensity radiation therapy is used or avoided altogether. However, children over 3 generally are given radiation therapy as standard treatment.
  • Chemotherapy – intrathecal chemotherapy is an important part of treatment as it allows medicine to be delivered directly to the central nervous system to treat the tumour
  • Stem cell transplant – this allows children with atypical teratoid to receive high doses of chemotherapy.



It is very difficult to cure this condition and outcomes remain poor. In general, older children with atypical teratoidtend to do better than younger children. The cure rate for children over 3 is about 70 percent, but below 15 percent for those under 3.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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