Who Is At Risk For Pediatric Brain Tumors & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Genetic syndrome, a family history of brain tumors may increase the risk of brain tumors in some children.1

A person’s likelihood of developing brain tumor is less than 1% in their entire lifecycle and account for 85% to 90% of all primary central nervous system.2

Blood tests are not used to diagnose brain tumors but can check for specific hormones and markers to help diagnose a brain tumor.3,4

Who Is At Risk For Pediatric Brain Tumors?

The primary tumor starts in the brain and spinal cord and approximately 23,000 adults (13,000 men and 10,000 women) in the United States are diagnosed with primary cancerous tumors each year. Several foundations are progressing to develop significant medical databases including pre-diagnostic risk factor data. In most cases, there is no known cause for a pediatric brain tumor.

Although medulloblastoma a rare condition yet clinical studies suggests that there is a strong relationship to family history with genetic syndromes that acts as a potential factor in increasing the risk of brain tumor. Very few risk factors have been identified to cause brain tumors in children.1

Age: 93% of primary brain and CNS tumors are diagnosed in people over 20 years old however the most common tumors in children are medulloblastoma in children ages 0–4 years and it can develop at any age.

Radiation Exposure: Studies demonstrate an increased incidence of brain tumors in patients exposed to CT exams. Most radiation-induced brain cancers are triggered by radiation to the brain provided to cure other tumors.

Family History With Genetic Syndromes: About 5% of brain tumors may be linked to hereditary genetic factors. Inherited genetic variants and mutations of DNA increase the risk of brain tumors.

Other Syndromes: Syndromes such as Neurofibromatosis type 1 are often linked to brain or spinal cord tumors. Changes in the NF1 gene lead to an increased risk of meningiomas, as well as spinal cord gliomas.2

Is There A Blood Test For Pediatric Brain Tumors?

The patients will undergo blood tests to check their overall health. Certain brain cancers such as the pituitary gland, pineal region, and germ cell tumors show variance in hormones and chemicals in the body. There are specific blood tests to help identify the abnormal hormones and beneficial in diagnosing brain tumors. However, most brain tumors are subjected to diagnosis based on their signs and symptoms that include headache, nausea & vomiting, sleepiness, balance problems, and seizures.

Blood tests are not used to diagnose brain or spinal cord tumors nevertheless it’s a baseline test for diagnosing any condition before planning treatment. Blood tests can check for substances that are released by some tumors and also shows genetic changes in the brain tumors.

A recent study shows that a blood test, called a liquid biopsy has proven records in the diagnosis and monitoring of primary pediatric brain tumors. They analyze DNA in blood and are accurate in detecting 72% of early cancer.3,4

The latest study demonstrates that nearly 4000 children are diagnosed with a brain tumor each year in the United States. Since these patients develop the condition in childhood, their brain is in the developing stage, therefore pediatric brain tumors are far different from adult brain tumors.

Epidemiologic research has discovered several possible risk factors, and thus far the only proven links for brain tumors are ionizing radiation that increases the risk of cancer in adults and children.

References:

  1. “Pediatric Brain Tumors.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Mar. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pediatric-brain-tumor/symptoms-causes/syc-20361694
  2. “Brain Tumor – Statistics.” Cancer.Net, 12 Feb. 2020 Risk Factors for Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children, www.cancer.net/cancer-types/brain-tumor/statistics
  3. “Blood Tests.” Blood Tests | Brain and Spinal Cord Tumours | Cancer Research UK, 28 Mar. 2019, www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/brain-tumours/getting-diagnosed/tests/blood-tests
  4. Peter Pressman, MD. “How a Brain Tumor Is Diagnosed.” Verywell Health, 17 July 2019 Blood Test Shows Promise for Detecting Genetic Changes in Brain Tumors, www.verywellhealth.com/diagnosing-brain-tumors-2488741

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