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 children with brain or spinal cord tumors depends more on the type of tumor and its location than on how early it is detected. But as with any disease, earlier detection and treatment is likely to be helpful.

Children with certain inherited syndromes

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.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Friedman JM. Neurofibromatosis 1. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al, eds. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2018. 1998 Oct 2 [Updated 2018 Jan 11].

Northrup H, Koenig MK, Pearson DA, Au KS. Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al, eds. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2018. 1999 Jul 13 [updated 2015 Sep 3].

Last Medical Review: June 20, 2018 Last Revised: June 20, 2018

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