There are different types of childhood brain and spinal cord tumors.
Childhood brain and spinal cord tumors are named based on the type of cell they formed in and where the tumor first formed in the CNS.
Childhood astrocytomas are tumors that form in cells called astrocytes. They can be low-grade or high-grade tumors. The grade of the tumor describes how abnormal the cancer cells look under a microscope and how quickly the tumor is likely to grow and spread. High-grade astrocytomas are fast-growing, malignant tumors. Low-grade astrocytomas are slow-growing tumors that are less likely to be malignant.
Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
Childhood atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors are fast-growing tumors that often form in the cerebellum. They may also form in other parts of the brain and in the spinal cord.
Brain Stem Glioma
Childhood brain stem gliomas form in the brain stem (the part of the brain connected to the spinal cord).
Central Nervous System Embryonal Tumor
Childhood CNS embryonal tumors form in brain and spinal cord cells when the fetus is beginning to develop. They include the following types of tumors:
- CNS atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors
- Pineal parenchymal tumors
- Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors (SPNET)
Central Nervous System Germ Cell Tumor
Childhood CNS germ cell tumors form in germ cells, which are cells that develop into sperm or ova (eggs). There are different types of childhood germ cell tumors. These include germinomas, embryonal yolk sac carcinomas, choriocarcinomas, and teratomas. A mixed germ cell tumor has two types of germ cell tumors in it. Germ cell tumors can be either benign or malignant.
Germ cell brain tumors usually form in the center of the brain, near the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a tiny organ in the brain that makes melatonin, which is a substance that helps control the sleeping and waking cycle. Germ cell tumors can spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord.
Childhood craniopharyngiomas are tumors that usually form just above the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is found in the center of the brain behind the back of the nose. It is about the size of a pea and controls many important body functions including growth. Craniopharyngiomas rarely spread, but may affect important areas of the brain, such as the pituitary gland.
Childhood ependymomas are slow-growing tumors formed in cells that line the fluid -filled spaces in the brain and spinal cord.
Childhood medulloblastomas form in the cerebellum.
Spinal Cord Tumors