Medulloblastoma is a rare, malignant brain tumor. It is most common in children and young adults under age 25. It is a fast-growing tumor and can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the brain and spine.
Symptoms of medulloblastoma
Medulloblastomas cause swelling in the brain, which can lead to the following brain tumor symptoms:
- Vomiting, especially in the morning
- Increasing head size
- Excessive sleepiness
- Refusal to eat
- Eye drooping
- Eye movement problems and/or double vision
- Impaired bowel and bladder function
- Weakness in the legs
Having these symptoms does not mean your child has a brain tumor. Many other conditions have similar symptoms. Your doctor at Rush can help you determine the root of your child’s problem.
Medulloblastoma: what you should know
- Medulloblastoma is a type of primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET), a group of rare brain tumors that can occur anywhere in the brain.
- Medulloblastomas occur in the lower, back part of the brain. They are the most common malignant brain tumors in children.
- It is rare for medulloblastomas to spread beyond the central nervous system (brain and spine).
- Brain and spinal cord tumors are the third most common type of childhood cancer, after leukemia and lymphoma.
- Because their brains and spines are still developing, children with brain tumors require different treatment and care than adults.
- There are no known causes or risk factors for medulloblastoma.
Care for medulloblastoma at Rush
A multidisciplinary team of specialists at Rush University Children’s Hospital works with your family to determine the best and most appropriate treatments, depending on your child’s tumor and developmental stage.
Treatments for medulloblastomas include the following:
- Surgery to remove the tumor
- Chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells
- Radiation therapy on the brain and spine after surgery (for children over age 3)
- Ventriculoperitoneal shunt to drain fluid from the brain
- Pediatric rehabilitation — including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy — to manage the effects of the cancer and treatments
Why choose Rush for medulloblastoma care
- At Rush, children with cancer have access to the best and newest treatments available. As a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, Rush participates in the latest clinical research trials and cooperates with other national and international medical centers to improve care for children with brain tumors.
- Patients can participate in clinical trials through the National Cancer Institute and the Children’s Oncology Group.
- Physicians at Rush University Children’s Hospital have international reputations for their contributions to pediatric cancer research and treatment.
- The Child Life Program at Rush University Children’s Hospital uses therapeutic play, art, and other forms of self-expression to help your child cope with the stress and difficulty of being in a hospital.
- Rush offers your child complementary therapies (e.g., acupuncture, biofeedback, massage) that can enhance traditional cancer treatment. Your child must be over 12 to receive these therapies, and your insurance must approve these treatments.