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Childhood Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Pediatric brain tumors are diagnosed in several ways:

Computerized tomography (CT scan): A CT scan will reveal brain abnormalities.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect tumors beneath the bones of the skull. 

Biopsy: Microscopic examination of tumor tissue (biopsy) will identify cancer cells. 

A physician may order further tests, including:

  • Lumbar puncture: a needle is inserted into the lower back to withdraw fluid from the spine, which is examined under a microscope
  • Bone marrow biopsy: a small amount of marrow is removed from the hip bone with a special needle
  • Bone scan to see if the tumor has spread beyond the brain

At MD Anderson, sedation may be used for younger children who are unable to stay still for these tests.

Getting a Second Opinion at MD Anderson

The pathologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging childhood brain tumors, and we welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • The Children’s Cancer Hospital is within one of the top-ranked cancer centers in America
  • Access to novel therapies and state-of-the-art technologies before most children’s hospitals
  • We see more types of cancer than any other children’s hospital in Texas
  • Family-centered care that actively involves parents in their child’s treatment
  • A strong cancer research program focused on developing new therapies for pediatric patients
  • Comprehensive support services such as an accredited school program, creative arts, child life and career counseling
  • An Adolescent and Young Adult Program that specializes in the unique medical and psychological needs of patients aged 15-25

Childhood Brain Tumor Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Childhood brain tumors are treated in our:

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Childhood Brain Tumor Staging

Staging is a way of determining how much disease is in the body and where it has spread. However, staging systems are not used for brain tumors.

While primary brain tumors (that start in or next to the brain) sometimes spread (metastasize) to other parts of the brain or the spine, they usually do not spread to other places in the body.

If your child has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center