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Brain Tumors in Children


A brain tumor is a mass that grows in your child's brain, or in an area near the brain. Examples include nerves in your child's skull, his pituitary gland, or the membranes that cover his brain. The tumor may start in your child's brain or travel to his brain from another body area. There are many kinds of brain tumors. Each kind is named for where it begins and what it does in the brain. A tumor may be malignant (cancer), or benign (not cancer). It may grow quickly or slowly.

Brain Anatomy


Call 911 if:

  • Your child's arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has new problems walking or moving one side of his body.
  • Your child has new or worsening headaches or body swelling.
  • Your child has a seizure.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until your child's pain is severe to give him more medicine.
  • Anticonvulsants may be given to prevent or control seizures.
  • Steroids may be given to reduce swelling.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child's healthcare provider may suggest tests such as an MRI or PET scan every 3 months. These tests help check for new or returning tumors. Work with your child's healthcare providers to create a follow-up care plan that is right for your child.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Support your child. A brain tumor can change the way your child acts, thinks, and feels. His memory, concentration, and ability to learn may decline. He may act without thinking or become more emotional. Talk with family and friends about these changes and about continuing care, treatments, and home services. Take your child to all follow-up appointments. Your child may also need to work with a tutor if he has trouble with schoolwork.
  • Have your child rest as needed. He may need more rest than usual, especially after cancer treatment.
  • Do not let your adolescent smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause brain and lung damage. Ask his healthcare provider for information if he currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your adolescent's healthcare provider before he uses these products.
  • Have your child eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, nuts, and cooked beans. Have your child eat small meals if he has any nausea. Ask if he needs to be on a special diet.
  • Have your child exercise as directed. Exercise can increase your child's energy and help keep his immune system strong. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much exercises he needs and which exercises are best for him.
  • Take your child to physical or speech therapy as directed. A physical therapist can help your child build muscle strength and coordination. A speech therapist can help your child if his tumor caused problems with speaking.

For support and more information:

  • American Brain Tumor Association
    8550 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, Suite 550
    Chicago , IL 60631
    Phone: 1- 800 - 886-2282
    Web Address:

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Brain Tumors in Children (Discharge Care)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.