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What are Childhood Brain and Spinal Tumours?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 10, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

A childhood brain or spinal cord tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord.


There are many types of childhood brain and spinal cord tumors. The tumors are formed by the abnormal growth of cells and may begin in different areas of the brain or spinal cord. Tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).


Together, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS).
The brain controls many important body functions.


The brain has three major parts:

  • The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. It is at the top of the head. The cerebrum controls thinking, learning, problem solving, emotions, speech, reading, writing, and voluntary movement.
  • The cerebellum, which is in the lower back of the brain (near the middle of the back of the head), controls movement, balance, and posture.
  • The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is in the lowest part of the brain (just above the back of the neck). The brain stem controls breathing, heart rate, and the nerves and muscles used in seeing, hearing, walking, talking, and eating.

The spinal cord connects the brain with nerves in most parts of the body.


The spinal cord is a column of nerve tissue that runs from the brain stem down the center of the back. It is covered by three thin layers of tissue called membranes. These membranes are surrounded by the vertebrae (back bones). Spinal cord nerves carry messages between the brain and the rest of the body, such as a signal from the brain to cause muscles to move or from the skin to the brain about the sense of touch.


Brain and spinal cord tumors are a common type of childhood cancer.

Although cancer is rare in children, brain and spinal cord tumors are the third most common type of childhood cancer, after leukemia and lymphoma. Brain tumors can occur in both children and adults. Treatment for children is usually different than treatment for adults.

 

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