Medulloblastoma is a tumor located in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance, coordination, and other complex motor functions. It is the most common malignant central nervous system tumor in children, accounting for 15 percent to 20 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.
Children with medulloblastoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Medulloblastoma/Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET) Program. Continue reading to learn more about medulloblastoma or visit the Medulloblastoma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
These tumors are most common between the ages of 3 and 8, but can occur at any time during childhood. They are associated with certain inherited diseases, including Li Fraumeni syndrome, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, and Turcot syndrome.
The most common symptoms of medulloblastoma are:
While it’s a rare occurrence, medulloblastoma can spread into the central nervous system or spinal cord and children can experience:
In addition to a physical examination and neurological function test of reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness, doctors diagnose medulloblastoma with:
After surgery, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can determine how much of the tumor was removed. After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
The most common treatments for medulloblastoma are:
Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, provides a one-hour presentation for parents on latest approaches to treating brain tumors; sponsored by American Brain Tumor Association.