Embryonal Brain Tumors

Also known as: central nervous system embryonal tumors, CNS embryonal tumors, brain tumors, brain cancer.

What are embryonal brain tumors?

Embryonic (fetal) cells are a type of brain cell that remains in the brain after birth and while embryonic tumors can occur at any age they most often happen in babies and young children. There are a number of different types of embryonic brain tumors. Most are malignant (cancerous) while some are benign, or noncancerous.

The tumors can grow and press on other parts of the brain, growing quickly and spreading through the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid-CSF) to other parts of the brain and spinal cord.

What causes embryonal brain tumors?

The exact cause of embryonal brain tumors is not fully understood however changes (mutations) in cell genes, some of which may be inherited from parents or occur spontaneously may result in these tumors forming. Gene changes associated with other rare inherited diseases may increase the likelihood of developing some brain tumors.

Other than exposure to radiation, there are no known environmental causes of childhood brain tumors.

What are the symptoms of embryonal brain tumors?

Symptoms vary depending on the site, size, location and speed of growth of the tumor and may include:

  • headaches
  • unexplained nausea and vomiting
  • vision problems
  • seizures
  • weakness and difficulty walking
  • memory loss
  • confusion
  • personality changes
  • balance problems
  • speech issues
  • confusion
  • irritability
  • and other symptoms.

What are embryonal brain tumor care options?

Depending on the type, size and location of the tumor, treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapy. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy (rehabilitation therapy) as well as tutoring is typically required following treatment.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: December 16, 2020 11:51 AM

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