Medulloblastoma tumors are rapidly-growing, high-grade tumors that always occur in the cerebellum (a region located in the lower-back portion of the brain) and frequently spread throughout the central nervous system. These tumors are common in both children and adults.
Medulloblastoma Tumors and the Spinal Cord
Medulloblastoma tumors are located near the fourth ventricle, a brain cavity that is connected to the central canal of the spinal cord. This proximity threatens the natural movement of cerebrospinal fluid and may send tumors to the spine via the spinal cord.
General symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Balance issues and poor coordination
- Intracranial pressure from fluid buildup
- Behavior changes
In addition to surgically removing as much of the tumor as possible, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine and cerebrospinal fluid is used to track tumor spread. Radiation therapy may be called upon to eliminate any evidence of tumors not removed by surgery, with radiation directed at both the area of the tumor and a lower dose to the entire brain and spinal cord.
- Learn more about UW Carbone Cancer Center radiation therapy options
- Before, During and After Radiation Therapy
Chemotherapy may be a treatment option, too, particularly for young children (with radiation therapy reserved for future needs). High-risk patients including children fewer than 3 years old and patients with definite evidence of tumor after surgery may also be recommended chemotherapy.
Information compiled based on research culled from the American Brain Tumor Association Web site.