Story by: Kim Huston on May 17, 2019
Brain tumors are growths of abnormal cells that occur in the brain or the tissue or structures near it. Brain tumors can be invasive (destroying nearby tissue or travelling to other spots in the body) or noninvasive (moving nearby tissue aside to grow larger).
Signs or symptoms of brain tumors will depend on things such as the age of the child and the location of the tumor in the brain. The general symptoms in kids vary, but include:
Many general brain tumor symptoms are due to an increase in pressure inside the brain (intracranial pressure). This pressure can be caused by the tumor growing, swelling in the brain or blocked flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the clear, watery fluid that helps protect the brain and spinal cord from injuries. Headaches are present in 70% of children with brain tumors; but so many children have headaches that a tumor is still a very rare cause for a headache.
Several symptoms should prompt a “red flag” for a brain tumor in a child and should prompt you to seek care if your child has any altered level of consciousness, clumsiness, or has any trouble moving or feeling a part of their body. Some headache types are more concerning for a tumor: a headache that is new or sudden, noticeably worsening, located in the back of the head, or worse when the child strains with activity or bathroom activities. Finally, headaches that are worse when lying down, in children without a parental history of headaches or in children less than 6 years old should be of more concern.
Seizures with or without a headache can be a sign of a brain tumor in some kids. Most seizures, however, are not caused by brain tumors. If your child experiences a seizure, your child’s provider may refer you to a neurologist to find out what caused the seizure.
In addition to general symptoms, babies and toddlers with brain tumors also may experience:
In addition to general symptoms, children and teens with a brain tumor also may experience:
Depending on where a tumor is in the brain or spine, different symptoms can appear. These symptoms also can be signs of a problem in that part of the brain or spine but not a tumor specifically.
Norton Children’s Neurosurgery treats some of the most complex brain and spine conditions in children.
Part of Norton Neuroscience Institute, Norton Children’s Neurosurgery offers surgical treatment for all types of neurological disorders affecting the nervous system and skull, including acquired brain injury, hydrocephalus, brain tumors and epilepsy.
Call (502) 583-1697
Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean your child has a brain tumor. Many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions or issues. Talk with your child’s provider about any questions or concerns you may have about your child’s symptoms. Your child’s provider can refer you to a pediatric neurologist or neurosurgeon for more testing as needed.