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What Are The First Symptoms Of Pediatric Brain Tumor & How Do You Test For It?

The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor are invariably dependent on the brain tumor type, size, location, and rate of growth however headache, nausea, balance problems, and seizures are typical symptoms.1,2

Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scan are effective in determining the location and size of the tumor.3

When the brain tumors develop and expand, they start affecting the individuals and tend to show symptoms, neurologic exams, MRI, and biopsy help predict the treatment.4

What Are The First Symptoms Of Pediatric Brain Tumor?

Brain tumors are the leading cause of death in children when it comes to cancer-related diseases. Prompt recognition and early diagnosis to allow the best possible treatment. Different parts of the brain affect different functions in the sensory organs such as vision, speech, and movements.

As we know that skull protects the brain but there is only a limited space, therefore, when the DNA cells are abnormal, the brain tissues expand and destroys the healthy tissues around the brain and spinal cord. The signs and symptoms of brain tumors vary based on the tumor location and size.

The Base Of The Brain- When there is a tumor at the base of the brain, the patient can experience one or more of the following symptoms.

Headache- Brain tumor in its early stages have no noticeable symptoms however when it grows it starts putting pressure on the brain nerves leading to headaches. The headaches are constant but worse at night or in the early morning.

Vomiting – Vomiting with or without nausea is a typical symptom of brain cancer. When these symptoms happen together with a headache, it is advisable to check with a medical expert.

Behavioral Change- The condition has an increased risk of causing personality or behavior changes. Behavioral changes include memory loss, severe emotional surge, and mood swings.

The Surface Of The Brain- Tumors developing on the brain surface can cause seizures.

Brain Stem- When the tumor occurs at the brain stem, it can cause balance problems and weakness in the structures.1,2

How Do You Test For Pediatric Brain Tumor?

A child experiencing a brain tumor should be thoroughly diagnosed by an expert physician to identify the root cause problem. The doctor may suggest some tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Medical History And Physical Exam- when the patient experience coordination problems of your body, a physical examination will be performed to check the different parts of the body. A blood test will also be performed to check the overall health and hormone levels.3

Imaging Tests- MRI is the most commonly used method to diagnose brain tumors. The tests use one or more imaging techniques that use x-ray, strong magnets, or radioactive elements to generate images of inner tissues.

Biopsy- This is a common procedure to diagnose a brain lesion that is performed in the operating room. During the process, the abnormal tissue cells are taken to determine what kind of brain lesion (abscess, tumor) is present.4

Depending on the diagnostic results, doctors will identify the type of tumor, which can help doctors plan the surgery.

Around 500 children and adults in the UK have been diagnosed with a brain tumor every year. Although this is a rare condition however making ourselves aware of its symptoms helps us to get the right treatment without unnecessary delays.

Despite the advancement of medical technologies in diagnosing brain and spinal cord tumors, still, several countries lag testing methods. So, knowledge of symptoms is often crucial in early diagnosis for better outcomes.


  1. “Brain Tumors in Children 8 Warning Signs You Should Know.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/brain-tumor/brain-tumors-in-children-8-warning-signs-you-should-know
  2. “Brain Tumors (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Rupal Christine Gupta, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, July 2016, kidshealth.org/en/parents/brn-tumors.html
  3. “Brain Tumors in Children.” Johns Hopkins Medicine,Diagnosis and Treatment www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/brain-tumor/pediatric-brain-tumors.
  4. “Tests for Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children Brain Tumor: Diagnosis.” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-children/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 10, 2021

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