Serving all people by providing personalized health and wellness through exemplary care, education and research.
Explore health content from A to Z.
I need information about...
Medulloblastoma is a type of brain cancer. It most often affects children, but it can also happen in adults. This cancer is very rare in people ages 40 and older. These tumors start in the cerebellum, near the back of the brain. The cerebellum controls balance and coordination.
Medulloblastoma is a primary brain tumor. That means it starts in the brain rather than spreading from somewhere else in your body. This type of tumor may spread (metastasize) within your brain and spinal cord. The outlook for tumors that have spread tends to be worse than for tumors that stay in one place.
These are relatively fast-growing tumors. The cancer cells can be one of these types:
Any tumor in your brain may press against a part of your brain and cause problems.
A small number of people with medulloblastoma have certain inherited disorders. These can increase their risk of getting these tumors.
These disorders include:
Most people who get medulloblastoma do not get it from an inherited disorder. It is unclear what causes most of these tumors.
There may be certain gene changes that cause the tumors to develop. Researchers have found that many people with this cancer have certain changes in genes that appear linked to these tumors.
Medulloblastoma is more common in children and young adults. In a few people with this condition, there is a link between the tumor and an inherited disorder. In most people, there is no known inherited risk. Researchers are actively trying to understand the genetics of medulloblastoma in hopes of better understanding the risk and possible treatments. The risk for medulloblastoma is higher in:
Symptoms of medulloblastoma may begin slowly and worsen as the tumor grows. Headaches are common. Sometimes, a brain tumor may block the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid, leading to increased intracranial pressure. This may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Because the tumor is usually in the cerebellum, it may affect balance and coordination early on. Some of the general symptoms of medulloblastoma may include:
Doctors usually take a complete medical history. They will also ask about your recent symptoms and past medical conditions, including a family medical history. You will need a complete physical exam, including a neurologic exam. Your doctor may ask you to do simple things like walk, touch your finger to your nose, hold your hands out, or follow a light with your eyes. If a doctor suspects a brain tumor, then you will probably need imaging tests of your brain. You may need certain tests, such as:
You may first see your primary healthcare provider who may refer you to a doctor that deals with brain disorders. This can include a neurologist, neurosurgeon, neuro-oncologist, or other specialist. Your doctor can help you understand your pathology report. This report tells the size, location, type, grade, and other specific information about your tumor.
Depending on the type and location of your tumor, your healthcare team will decide the best treatment plan for you. In general, the main treatment in adults is surgical removal of as much of the cancer as possible. This both removes the tumor and provides a tissue sample for testing. Complete removal of the tumor increases the chances of a good outcome. A doctor will examine the sample to find out your tumor type and grade. After surgery, you may also have radiation therapy and, in some cases, chemotherapy as well. Depending on your tumor characteristics, you may have one or more of the following treatments:
You may need to have a tube inserted. In this case, your doctor will use a shunt to drain excess fluid and lower your intracranial pressure. You will likely need to have several follow-up MRI scans done regularly to monitor your condition.
You can work with your medical team to decide on the best treatment plan for you. These team members may include the following:
Many people with medulloblastoma have a good outcome. Some people have complications due to the surgery or other treatments. In some cases, the tumor comes back after treatment. To check for recurrence, you will likely need to have follow-up MRI scans in the weeks after surgery and then a few times a year after that. One possible complication is posterior fossa syndrome. This a form of temporary brain damage, due to surgery. Symptoms may include problems with language, emotions, and movement. This may last for weeks or years.
Other complications can include:
Talk with your doctor about the risk of treatment complications, your outlook, and the chances of your tumor returning.
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children, but is relatively rare in adults. It starts in the brain. These are relatively fast-growing tumors. Here are some key facts about medulloblastoma:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
Copyright © 2017 Baylor Scott & White Health. All Rights Reserved. |
3500 Gaston Ave., Dallas, TX 75246-2017 | 1.800.4BAYLOR