Only a month ago, we recognized the 15th International Brain Tumor Awareness Week. However, a troubling revelation since then is the realization that children today are less immune to brain tumors. It is alarming to note that brain tumors account for 25% of all cancer cases diagnosed in children, making the condition highly critical in most instances.
Interestingly, recent studies conducted in 2021 by A Cancer Journal for Clinicians have shed light on the incidence rates of malignant brain tumors. These studies indicate a significant annual decrease in incidence rates across all age groups since 2017. Unfortunately, the rates have risen from 0.5% to 0.7% each year for children up to their teenage years, highlighting a concerning upward trend.
“Pediatric brain tumors pose a complex and challenging medical condition,” says explains Dr. Raveesh Sunkara, a well-known neurosurgeon in Hyderabad.
Understanding Pediatric Brain Tumors – Curability and Serious Consequences
Due to the complexities that brain tumors entail, they are categorized into different classes for better identification. In children, most brain tumors are primary as they start in the brain. Others metastasize to the brain from other affected parts (secondary tumors). The primary tumors prevalent in children are astrocytomas, ependymomas, brainstem gliomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs).
On the one hand, there is hope that pediatric tumors are curable, offering a chance at recovery for affected children. Medical advancements, including surgical techniques, radiation therapy, and targeted drug treatments, have significantly improved the prognosis for many young patients.
However, it is crucial to recognize that pediatric brain tumors can still have serious consequences even with successful treatments. The tumor’s location within the brain, size, and the specific type of tumor all contribute to the potential impact on a child’s health and development.
“Some pediatric brain tumors and their treatments can cause significant long-term cognitive deficits and intellectual and neurological problems,” explains Dr. Raveesh Sunkara, among the best neurosurgeons in Hyderabad. “If not life-threatening, it can impact how the child functions and how challenging it would be to return to normal life.”
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Pediatric Brain Tumor
A tumor is a mass of abnormally growing cells. Unlike normal cells, these cells divide and multiply rapidly. There are several ways for these cells to grow and create pressure in the brain based on location. It has the potential to alter the way the body functions.
A variety of signs and symptoms can signify pediatric brain tumors. Some common ones are:
Factors Behind the Rising Incidence of Pediatric Brain Tumors
Genetic predisposition: Brain Tumors are more likely to develop in children with certain genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis. The mutated genes provide wrong information to the cells, and as a result, they grow abnormally.
But genetics alone cannot play a role in the rising number of cases, as it takes generations for the genetic disorder to be prominent. It was confirmed in an interview by Dr. Phillip Lupo, a reputed genetic epidemiologist and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Environmental exposures: Exposure to certain environmental factors, such as ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and electromagnetic fields, has been implicated in developing pediatric brain tumors.
Though the studies are still preliminary, scientists have established a connection between primary CNS and brain Tumors and toxic agents (N-nitroso compounds, pesticides), air pollution, radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, and brain-ionizing irradiation present in the environment. They all pose potential risk factors for children.
“Furthermore, advances in medical technology and improved diagnostic techniques have led to better detection and diagnosis of pediatric brain tumors,” observes Dr. Raveesh Sunkara. “Increased awareness and reporting ensures that more cases are recognized and included in statistical data.”
Dr.Sunkarais a qualified brain and spine specialist, highly-respected among his peers and patients for his expertise as the top neurosurgeon in Hyderabad.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Imaging tests like CT scans and MRIs are used for viewing the entire brain structure. It not only shows the actual location of the tumor but also helps the surgeon evaluate the best approach to reach the tumor, as the brain is full of vital components that shouldn’t be disturbed. It also helps in grading the tumor (determining aggressiveness).
Surgery is the primary modality for most pediatric tumors, and an excellent surgical clearance is of utmost importance as it can increase life expectancy and help reduce radiation requirements post-operatively.
Multiple advancements in Histopathological grading and immunohistochemistry help determine the most suitable post-operatively treatment protocol(post-operatively chemotherapy and radiotherapy) tailored to each child with such brain tumor.
What Are The Survival Chances For Children With Brain Tumors?
Low-grade tumors in children do not produce drastic effects. With proper treatment, the survival chances go much more than 50%.
Children with pilocytic astrocytoma have a 90% chance of beating brain cancer within about five years of diagnosis.
In the case of glioblastoma, the chances of survival are slimmer than 80%. Unfortunately, it accounts for approximately 48.6% of all malignant tumors in children.
“We can strive for improved outcomes for young patients battling brain tumors by addressing both the curability and the potential challenges of the condition,” says Dr. Raveesh Sunkara.
About The Doctor
Dr. Sunkara is one of the best neurosurgeons in Hyderabad. He has ample experience in dealing with pediatric brain tumors. He works at Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad, which provides all the modern technologies and state-of-the-art operating suites. These modern facilities not only help in the fastest recovery of the child but also help reduce the brain tumor surgery cost by avoiding complications that incur huge bills by increasing the length of hospital stay.
Dr. Raveesh Sunkara, who runs one of the best tumor clinics in Hyderabad at Yashodha hospitals, emphasizes accelerated diagnosis of brain tumors in children and prompt treatment. They are the keys to the successful treatment of such tumors.