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Childhood Brain Tumors

Brain tumors affect nearly 1,500 to 2,000 children in the United States every year. They are diagnosed most often between the ages of three and eight, but can occur at any age. A brain tumor results from an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain and is classified by the way brain tumor cells appear under a microscope. Tumors can be more or less malignant. Malignant brain tumors tend to grow rapidly and can spread to the spinal cord. For the most malignant tumors, there is still no standard treatment, but innovative treatments are being used at the Children's Cancer Hospital. For the least malignant tumors, surgery alone may be sufficient treatment.

Pediatric brain tumors are usually found early because the brain regulates vital functions such as memory, learning, hearing, sight, smell and emotion, and when these vital functions are disrupted, signs appear quickly.

MD Anderson, in collaboration with Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital, offers a pediatric brain tumor program that brings together expertise from two renowned hospitals. The program ensures that patients receive timely and accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment for all types of pediatric brain tumors. 

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.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • The Children’s Cancer Hospital is within the No. 1 cancer center 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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Max Daniel

"Going to the Proton Therapy Center every day wasn’t a thing of dread. We looked forward to it because the staff, the other families and patients we met became our friends."  –Max's mom, Renee Daniel

Anaplastic Meningioma Survivor Max Daniel

Childhood Brain Tumor Types

Astrocytomas are the most common brain tumors seen in children. The cells have a star-like shape and can form on any part of the brain or spinal cord:

  • Cerebellar astrocytomas form in the lower back part of the brain and account for 15-25% of all brain tumors.
  • Low-grade astrocytomas may be located in the posterior fossa and can often be surgically removed without additional therapy.
  • Anaplastic astrocytomas (grade III) look abnormal and grow rapidly.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GMB) are grade IV tumors and are very aggressive.

Ependymomas account for 9% of all brain tumors and occur in the lining of the brain or develop along the spinal cord. These tumors are usually benign and grow very slowly.

Primitive neuroectodermal tumors are highly malignant and behave aggressively. They are most often found in the frontal, temporal or parietal lobes of the brain.

Choroid Plexus tumors are rare cancers of gland tissues that produce cerebrospinal fluid.

Atypical Teratoid-Rhabdoid tumors (ATRT) are highly aggressive tumors that occur mostly in very young children.

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