The brain stem is in effect the nerve centre of the brain. It controls function such as breathing, heart beat, swallowing feeling and movement.
Brain stem tumours account for about 10 to 15% of childhood brain tumours. They usually occur around 6 to 9 years of age. Most brain stem tumours are termed brain stem giloma, although as we are now biopsing and debulking more of these tumours the specifics of the different types of tumours is becoming apparent.
- Diffuse infiltrative brain stem gliomas
- Focal brain stem glioma
- Dorsally exophytic tumour
- Cranio-cervical junction tumour.
- Double vision
- Facial weakness or numbness
- Balance problems
- Swallowing difficulty
- Arm or leg weakness
- Headaches for hydrocephalus
- Breathing difficulties
- MRI is mandatory
- Traditionally these tumours have been treated as one entity
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy is usually offerred on a best guess basis
- Histological confirmation is possible for most tumours
- Some brain stem tumours can be reduced in volume with surgery
- Any hydrocephalus should be treated.
- Surgery for brain stem tumours