Ependymoma:ependymoma can occur in anyone but most commonly occurs in children. It occurs when a tumour grows in the spinal cord or brain.
Brainstem Glioma:brainstem glioma occurs when a tumour grows in the brain or spinal cord.
Craniopharyngioma:craniopharyngioma is a rare type of benign brain tumour that grows near the pituitary gland.
Pineoblastoma:pineoblastoma occurs when a tumour begins growing in the pineal gland– the gland responsible for the production of melanin. It grows quickly and can spread to different areas of the brain.
Early detection and comprehensive care are essential in managing paediatric brain tumours and improving outcomes.
What causes Paediatric Brain Tumours?
Brain tumours grow when some cells multiply uncontrollably, forming an abnormal mass of cells called a tumour. However, the exact cause of paediatric brain tumours is not always fully understood, but they can result from a combination of factors. In some cases, genetic conditions may play a role, where certain genetic mutations increase the risk of tumour development. Additionally, environmental factors may contribute to the formation of these tumours, although specific triggers have not been clearly identified.
While the exact cause may not always be known, recognising early warning signs and seeking prompt medical attention is vital. Identifying and treating paediatric brain tumours early can significantly impact prognosis and improve the chances of successful treatment.
What are the symptoms of Paediatric Brain Tumours?
The symptoms of paediatric brain tumours include:
Persistent and severe headaches
Frequent and unexplained vomiting
Seizures or convulsions
Changes in vision, such as double or blurred vision
Any pain associated with paediatric brain tumours can vary depending on factors such as the tumour’s location, size, and rate of growth. In some cases, brain tumours may cause headaches, which can be painful and persistent. However, not all brain tumours cause pain, with some only producing noticeable symptoms if/when they grow large enough to exert pressure on the surrounding structures in the brain.
Who are at risk of Paediatric Brain Tumours in Singapore?
In Singapore, paediatric brain tumours can affect children from various backgrounds and age groups, but there are no specific groups of children who are exclusively at risk of developing brain tumours.
Although it is essential to be aware of potential risk factors which can include exposure to radiation, certain chemicals, or high doses of certain medications, it is crucial to remember that most children with these risk factors do not develop brain tumours, and a majority of cases occur without any known risk factors.
How are Paediatric Brain Tumours diagnosed?
Diagnosing paediatric brain tumours involves a series of steps, including:
Medical history and physical examination: to assess symptoms and neurological function of the child.
Imaging tests: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (link to service page) and computed tomography(CT) (link to service page) scans are used to provide detailed images of the brain to identify the presence, location, and size of any abnormal growths.
Biopsy or surgical resection: may be necessary for a precise diagnosis and to determine the tumour’s type.
Laboratory analysis: tissue samples may be obtained for biopsy (link to service page) and examined in a laboratory to identify the specific type of tumour cells.
Additional tests: genetic analysis may be conducted to gather more information about the tumour and assist in planning the most effective treatment approach.
What are the treatment options for Paediatric Brain Tumours in Singapore?
There are several treatment options for paediatric brain tumours in Singapore, these are:
Surgery: to remove as much of the tumour as possible without causing damage to essential brain functions.
Chemotherapy: powerful drugs are used to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be administered before or after surgery, or in combination with other treatments.
Radiation therapy: high-energy beams are used to target and shrink tumours.
Targeted therapy: focuses on specific molecular features of the tumour cells to eradicate them.
Frequently asked questions
Will my child need radiation or chemotherapy?
Whether your child will need radiation or chemotherapy depends on the specific type, location, and stage of the brain tumour. This can be discussed with your child’s neurosurgeon for personalised recommendations.
How will treatment impact my child’s daily life?
The impact of treatment on your child’s daily life varies between children, the type of brain tumour, and the treatment plan.
How can we manage symptoms and side effects during treatment?
To manage symptoms and side effects during treatment, work closely with your child’s neurosurgeon. They can provide personalised strategies and support to address any challenges that may arise.