Brain Tumors in Children

Make an Appointment

Children are most affected by primary brain tumors, or tumors that begin in brain cells. Primary brain tumors are the second most common cancer in children and young adults.

General Symptoms of Pediatric Brain Tumors

Symptoms of pediatric brain tumors may occur gradually, or they might happen suddenly, as with a seizure. A growing tumor in the brain could cause pressure inside the skull. This swelling increases pressure inside the skull and can cause:

  • Headache
  • Enlarged head (in babies)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Crossed eyes or blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness or even coma

Headaches that get worse over time are a common symptom of brain tumors. However, most headaches are not caused by tumors.

Diagnosis & Treatment at UVA

Your child's doctor will ask you about your child’s health history and symptoms. This will include a neurological exam where we’ll test reflexes, muscle strength, coordination and eye movement. Additional tests may include: 

  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Lumbar puncture
  • PET scan
  • Biopsy

At UVA, we offer the latest treatment options for pediatric brain tumors, providing care designed for the special needs of children and teens.

Treatment may include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

Depending on the type and size of the brain tumor, your child may require medication to treat swelling in the brain, seizures, infection and hormonal symptoms.