Brain tumors are the most common tumors in children after leukemia. 6 out of every 1 tumors that develop in childhood is located in the brain. 52 percent of these tumors are seen between the ages of 2-10 and 42 percent between the ages of 11-18. The rate of brain tumors occurring under the age of one is around 5.5 percent. Half of the brain tumors are benign tumors, and the other half are malignant tumors. According to statistical data from the USA; 3 out of every XNUMX children are diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Thanks to the important developments in the medical world today, it is heartening to see much more successful results in the treatment of benign and malignant brain tumors.
Acıbadem Altunizade Hospital Pediatric Neurosurgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Noting that early diagnosis and treatment play a key role in obtaining successful results from the treatment of brain tumors, Memet Özek said, “No child says I have a headache easily. Therefore, the child who complains of a headache every day for a period of 1-2 weeks should be taken seriously and a brain MRI should be taken to be sure. In addition, since the gushing type of vomiting that occurs especially in the morning on an empty stomach can also indicate a brain tumor, the cause should be determined by cranial MRI without wasting time.
Early diagnosis is very important!
Early diagnosis is very important in childhood benign and malignant brain tumors, as in all other diseases. "Small tumors are always easier to treat surgically than large tumors with the same location, and the surgical complication rate generally develops less in small tumors," said Pediatric Neurosurgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Memet Özek continues his words as follows: “In addition, performing surgical treatment in malignant tumors, especially in 'ependymoma' and 'medulloblastoma' tumors that have the potential to spread through the cerebrospinal fluid, before the spread occurs, prevents the disease from reaching a hopeless stage. Benign tumors such as pilocytic astrocytoma and malignant tumors such as selected ependymoma and medulloblastoma can also be cured by early treatment.”
These signals may be a sign of a brain tumor!
Pediatric Neurosurgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Memet Özek lists the symptoms that parents should pay attention to against benign and malignant brain tumors as follows:
In babies whose fontanels are still open, the head circumference may expand more than normal, weak sucking, decreased activity, nausea, vomiting and weight loss may occur. In brain tumors located in the posterior cavity, hydrocephalus, which is known as excess water collection in the head, may also develop.
It can manifest as nausea, vomiting, headache, drooping eyes, slurred speech, hand-arm coordination disorder, loss of strength in the arms and legs, balance problems and a decrease in school success. Paralysis and epileptic seizures may also develop.
If he vomits on an empty stomach in the morning, watch out!
Nausea and vomiting are among the most common symptoms of benign and malignant brain tumors in children. Pediatric Neurosurgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Memet Özek, warning that the gush-like vomiting that develops especially in the morning on an empty stomach may be an important sign of a brain tumor, said, “In cases of nausea and vomiting, a pediatrician is first consulted. In this case, the fundus examination should be done, otherwise time may be lost because this problem is thought to be a gastrointestinal system problem. Especially in the gush-like vomiting that occurs in the morning on an empty stomach, a cranial MRI should be performed immediately and the issue should be clarified.
In most cases, the cause cannot be identified.
Benign tumors called pilocytic astrocytoma are most common in children, while malignant tumors, especially posterior pit medulloblastoma and ependymoma, are observed in the second frequency. Less frequently, malignant tumors such as diffuse midline gliomas and atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors can also be seen. As with many tumors, the causative agent cannot be detected in most benign and malignant childhood brain tumors. However, it is known that brain tumors can occur as a result of long-term exposure to radiation.
Groundbreaking advances in treatment
The most ideal treatment for all brain tumors except diffuse midline gliomas; surgical method is to remove as much tumor tissue as possible. Then, if necessary, radiotherapy and chemotherapy methods are applied according to the name and molecular infrastructure of the tumor. Pediatric Neurosurgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Memet Özek, stating that it is of vital importance to conduct molecular studies from the tissue of the tumor obtained after surgery, explains the developments in treatment as follows: “Today, targeted chemotherapies that do not damage healthy tissues are being developed. Drugs that can affect the mutations of tumors can be developed and used in appropriate patients. Thus, in benign and malignant tumors, the regrowth of the tumor and its spread to other parts of the brain can be prevented. In this way, the life expectancy of patients is extended and their quality of life increases. Our clinic also makes important contributions to the world literature, where there are quite a few gaps in this regard, especially in targeted, personalized chemotherapy treatments.”
Brain areas are mapped
Brain tumors are diagnosed with detailed brain MRI (Magnetic Resonance) method. In centers with advanced MR methods; the nerve pathways that move the arm and leg, the brain areas responsible for speech, comprehension and hand-arm movement can be mapped and the surgical procedure can be shaped according to this map. prof. Dr. Memet Özek said, “Today, there are vital developments in the field of pathology, which is the branch of science that names the tumor. The World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified pediatric brain tumors in 2021. This classification is entirely dependent on the genetic makeup of the tumor. When we understand the genetic structure, we have a chance to stop the proliferation of tumor cells. Molecular studies are performed on each tumor, and the most accurate diagnosis and chemotherapy treatments tailored to each patient's tumor are planned.