Brain and other central nervous systems tumours

  • canceraustralia

Brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumours occur when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled way in these organs. As these cells grow and spread, these tumours cause a wide range of symptoms depending on which parts of the brain or spinal cord are affected. This page from Cancer Australia explains the many different types of cells in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. The article explains that the most common types of brain and other CNS tumours in children are:

  • Gliomas – these develop from glial cells. There are several types of glial cells which give rise to different types of gliomas:
    • Astrocytomas develop from a glial cell called an astrocyte. This is a cell that supports the nerve cells in the brain. The terms ‘astrocytoma’ and ‘glioma’ are often used interchangeably. Astrocytomas/Gliomas are categorised as low or high grade according to how ‘aggressive’ the tumour cells look under a microscope. The Grade I and II are low grade tumours whereas Grade III and IV are considered high grade. The most common types of astrocytomas are:
      • Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (JPA) is the commonest low grade tumour in children. It usually occurs in cerebellum or the backpart of the brain.
      • The commonest high grade tumours are Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) which is a grade IV tumour, and Anaplastic Astrocytoma  (Grade III) are both high grade tumours. These generally develop in the upper part of the brain.
    • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPGs) develop in the brain stem. This is the part of the CNS that “connects” and lies between the brain and the spinal cord. It acts as the control centre for vital body functions such as the heart rate and breathing.
    • Optic pathway gliomas arise either in the optic nerve, which connects the brain with the eyes or the vision pathways in the brain.
  • Ependymomas develop from ependymal cells. These cells line the fluid-filled areas of the brain (called the ventricles) and spinal cord, through which the cerebrospinal fluid flows. Ependymomas are given different names, depending on where they occur in the brain. They can spread to other parts of the CNS.
  • Medulloblastomas – these tumours develop from a type of nerve cell in the cerebellum (the area at the back of the brain that controls movement and coordination). They tend to be aggressive tumours and often spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord.
  • There are many other types of brain and spinal cord tumours. These are much rarer. They include atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumours (ATRT), primitive neuroectodermal tumours (CNS-PNET), pineoblastoma and CNS germ cell tumours .

You can read more about the risk factorssymptoms, diagnosis, treatment, support, chance of cure, and clinical trials by reading the full article here. 


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