Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Can brain and spinal cord tumors in children be found early?

Screening is testing for a disease (such as brain or spinal cord tumors) in people without any symptoms. At this time there are no widely recommended screening tests for most children to look for brain or spinal cord tumors before they start to cause symptoms. These tumors usually are found as a result of signs or symptoms the child is having.

Most often, the outlook for people with brain or spinal cord tumors depends on the type of tumor and its location, not how early it is detected. But as with any disease, earlier detection and treatment is likely to be helpful.

For children with certain inherited syndromes that put them at higher risk for brain tumors, such as neurofibromatosis or tuberous sclerosis, doctors often recommend frequent physical exams and other tests. These tests might find tumors when they are still small. Not all tumors related to these syndromes may need to be treated right away, but finding them early might help doctors monitor them so that they can be treated quickly if they begin to grow or cause problems.

Last Medical Review: 08/12/2014
Last Revised: 01/21/2016