Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells in the brain or central nervous system. There are more than 120 types and they are the most common solid tumor in children. Tumors are classified by where they start from and whether they are benign or malignant. A benign tumor does not contain cancer cells and usually, once removed, does not recur. Most benign brain tumors have clear borders (which means that when they are cut out, all cells are removed) and they do not spread to surrounding tissue. Benign brain tumors can still be deadly if they occur in parts of the brain that control vital bodily functions.
Malignant brain tumors — commonly called “brain cancer” — are made of cells that are fast growing and spread quickly to other parts of the body (“metastasizing”). The most common brain tumors in children from birth to 14 years of age are pilocytic astrocytoma (benign), malignant glioma (malignant), medulloblastoma (malignant), neuronal and mixed neuronal-glial tumors (benign), and ependymoma (malignant).
Brain tumors that occur in infants and children are extremely different from adult brain tumors, both in terms of the type of cells and the responsiveness to treatment. Lurie Children’s Brain Tumor Center offers highly specialized and state-of the-art care for children of all ages. The center is designed specifically to treat children with brain and central nervous system tumors.