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Types of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

How serious a brain or spinal cord tumor is in a child depends on its grade. The grade (I to IV) is based on what the tumor cells look like under a microscope. Grade I is the least serious and grade IV is the most serious. Low-grade tumors (I or II) tend to grow slowly. High-grade tumors (III or IV) are malignant, with fast growth and spread into normal brain tissue.

Common Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

The most common types of brain and spinal cord tumors in children are medulloblastomas and gliomas, which include:

Other Brain and Spinal Tumors Found in Children

Locations of Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

Brain and spinal cord tumors in children are also classified by their location within the brain. They may occur in the:

  • Cerebellum — the lower, back part of the brain, which controls balance, coordination and fine muscle control (e.g., walking),
  • Cerebrum — the large, outer part of the brain, which controls thought, learning, speech, emotions, planned muscle movements, and the senses
  • Brainstem — the bottom part of the brain, which connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord and controls many basic body functions and movement
  • Spinal cord — a long, tube-like bundle of nerves that starts in the brain and goes down the length of the spine, and carries messages to and from the brain.
pediatric brain cancer

Pediatric Brain Cancer

Pediatric Brain Cancer and Recurring Spinal Cord Tumors

All types of brain and spinal cord tumors in children may recur. When these tumors do recur, they may be benign or malignant. The treatment plan after recurrence will depend on the clinical picture, type of tumor, and the opinion of specialists on the cancer team.

To make an appointment or request a consultation, contact the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Brain Tumor Center at 410-955-7337.

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