While medulloblastoma is rare, it is the most common pediatric malignant (cancerous) brain tumor. About 20% of childhood brain tumors are medulloblastomas. According to the American Cancer Society, about 500 children are diagnosed with medulloblastoma each year in the United States.
Medulloblastomas start in the cerebellum, in the region of the brain at the base of the skull called the posterior fossa. This is the part of the brain that controls balance and other complex motor functions. While medulloblastomas often grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, especially the bones or bone marrow, they usually respond well to treatment.
Medulloblastoma Risk Factors
Anything that increases your child’s chance of developing medulloblastoma is a risk factor. Although
the cause of medulloblastoma is not known, certain things may increase a child's risk.
- Age: Most medulloblastoma cases are diagnosed before age 16, and usually between the ages of 3 and 8.
- Gender: Medulloblastoma is more common in boys than girls.
- Genetic conditions: People with Li-Fraumeni syndrome and Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin syndrome) are more likely to develop medulloblastoma.
In rare cases, medulloblastoma can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Visit our genetic testing page to learn more.