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Pediatric Brain Tumors

Originally published on November 10, 2009
Most recently updated on March 28, 2012

Every year, about 4,200 children (ages 0-19) in the United States are found to have brain and spinal cord tumors. The majority of them survive. This chapter provides an overview of the diagnosis and treatment of tumors in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system, or CNS). Tumors can also arise in the spinal nerves (peripheral nervous system, or PNS) as well as the surrounding protective and supportive bones of the skull and spine.

Thanks to continued advances in computerized imaging, surgical techniques, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, as well as newer approaches such as immunotherapy and gene therapy, the future of affected children continues to improve.

Although the cause of most brain tumors is not known, researchers are looking into environmental and genetic factors for clues. Unfortunately, there are little conclusive data on what causes childhood nervous system tumors. One thing that is clear is that these tumors are not contagious.

At a time when there is an explosion of medical information, families of children with brain and spinal cord tumors need up-to-date knowledge of recent advances and access to specialized treatment centers. Your own persistence in seeking information can be of great help to your child and your family. It is our goal to serve as a resource for families by providing information and support.

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