Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can brain and spinal cord tumors in children be prevented?

Adults can reduce their risk of certain cancers with lifestyle changes (such as maintaining a healthy weight or quitting smoking), but at this time there are no known ways to prevent most cancers in children.

Other than radiation exposure, there are no known lifestyle-related or environmental causes of brain and spinal cord tumors in children, so at this time there is no way to protect against most of these cancers.

For most children with other types of cancer involving the brain or other areas of the head, radiation therapy may be given if the doctors feel the benefits outweigh the small risk of developing a brain tumor years later. Still, when it is needed, doctors try to limit the dose of radiation as much as possible.

X-rays or CT scans done before birth or during childhood use much lower levels of radiation than those used for treatment. If there is any increase in risk from these tests, it is likely to be very small, but to be safe, most doctors recommend that pregnant women and children not get these tests unless they are absolutely needed.

Last Medical Review: 03/22/2013
Last Revised: 01/31/2014