Brain Tumours

Brain Tumours

Brain tumours are the most common tumours that develop in children, they account for around 2 in 10 new cases of childhood cancer each year.

Children of any age can be affected and about 400 children in the UK develop brain tumours each year. Boys are affected slightly more often than girls.

Brain tumours can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Benign tumors are referred to as benign due to the appearance under the microscope of the abnormal cells that make up the tumour. It is unusual for Benign cells to spread into other areas. However, because even benign brain tumours can have serious effects if they continue to grow, it is important to take a more active approach to treatment than for benign tumours that arise outside of the brain.

Malignant Tumours are most likely to cause problems by causing pressure and damage to the areas around them and possibly by spreading to the normal brain tissue close by and sometimes more distant to the original tumour.

The main types that affect children are:

Medulloblastoma – The most common malignant brain tumour which usually develops in the lower part of the brain, the cerebellum. They may spread to other parts of the brain or into the spinal cord, and treatment must include the whole of this.

Others include –


Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) (brainstem glioma)

Embryonal tumours (formerly known as PNET)

Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour (ATRT)

High grade astrocytoma

Intracranial germ cell tumours


Most Common Symptoms

These will depend on the size of the tumour, where it is and how it affects that part of the brain. These are caused by the pressure inside the head being higher than it should be: a growing tumour may push normal brain out of the way or block the flow of fluid in the brain.

Symptoms include –

  • eye problems, such as abnormal eye movements, blurring or double vision
  • feeling very tired much more quickly than usual
  • feeling extremely sleepy (drowsy) for no reason.
  • fits (seizures) or tremors
  • feeling very irritated or losing interest in day-to-day things
  • changes in behaviour or emotional outbursts
  • repeated headaches (often worse in the morning)
  • vomiting (usually in the morning) or feeling sick
  • one-sided weakness of legs, arms or face
  • clumsiness or poor coordination (including difficulties with balance)


For further guidance about Brain Tumours speak to your General Practitioner.