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About Medulloblastoma Brain Tumor
Medulloblastomas: Symptoms, Treatment and Diagnosis
Medulloblastoma tumors arise from primitive neural cells. The tumors are almost exclusively found in children with the posterior fossa within the cerebellum.
Long recognized as one of the most common tumors in the posterior fossa, Medulloblastomas account for 4 percent to 10 percent of primary brain tumors. In patients under the age of 20, they account for between 15 percent and 20 percent of central nervous system tumors. Roughly 300 to 500 new cases of medulloblastoma occur per year in the United States.
- The most common symptoms are related to increased intracranial pressure due to hydrocephalus, including lethargy, headaches and vomiting occurring at first rarely but later every morning on awakening. After being upright and awake the child feels better and is able to return to normal activities.
- Later symptoms include difficulty walking secondary because of balance difficulty, dizziness and double vision.
- Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to identify the presence of a posterior fossa tumor.
- Surgical decompression
- Surgical debulking of the tumor is the initial step in the management of patients with medulloblastoma. As much tumor as possible is removed without causing neurologic injury. Surgical exposure of the tumor requires that a piece of the skull be removed.
- Complications associated with surgery are swallowing difficulties, difficulty with balance, double vision and death. The rate of complications is less than 2 percent and depends greatly on the quality of the team as a whole.
- Radiation therapy
- The most important single therapeutic procedure after surgery for removal of a medulloblastoma is radiation therapy.
- The major difficulty with radiation treatment is the inability of the young, developing brain to tolerate large doses. Because of this, chemotherapy is used instead in children under age 2.
- Several studies suggest that further improvements in survival rate can be obtained by aggressive surgical resection followed closely by both radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The Neuro-ICU cares for patients with all types of neurosurgical and neurological injuries, including stroke, brain hemorrhage, trauma and tumors. We work in close cooperation with your surgeon or medical doctor with whom you have had initial contact. Together with the surgeon or medical doctor, the Neuro-ICU attending physician and team members direct your family member's care while in the ICU. The Neuro-ICU team consists of the bedside nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians in specialty training (Fellows) and attending physicians. UCLA Neuro ICU Family Guide