Medulloblastoma is a type of brain tumor that forms primary in the central nervous system, usually in the cerebellum. The function of the cerebellum is controlling coordination movement and balance. It is generally classified as a Grade IV tumor which means it is malignant (cancerous) and spreads rapidly. Medulloblastoma is commonly diagnosed in children.
Medulloblastoma usually begins in embryonic cells of the cerebellum. Although it rarely spreads in different parts of the body, it can spread through the cerebrospinal fluid (CFS) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
The treatment for medulloblastoma is based on the tumor subtype, tumor extent and other medical related factors. Treatment options typically consists of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
The signs and symptoms of medulloblastoma may vary depending on the tumor’s location or increased in pressure inside the brain. Common symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Double vision
- Poor coordination and balance
- Walking problems
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Back pain
- Seizures or fainting
Medulloblastoma is a serious condition and therefore children or adults who constantly experiencing any of the signs and symptoms should consult a healthcare provider for immediate assessment.
There is unknown cause for most medulloblastoma in adults and children. However, a small percentage of medulloblastoma in children is linked to genetic changes that can be inherited from parents such as Breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutation, Gorlin syndrome, and Turcot syndrome. Genes mutation can transform in many types of cancer, which can promote the growth and spread of cancer cells.
The underlying cause for primary brain tumors like medulloblastoma, is often unknown. However, several risk factors can contribute to its development, such as:
- Genetic: There are some genetic conditions that may increase the risk for developing medulloblastoma including:
- Breast cancer gene (BRCA) mutations: People who inherit specific versions of these genes are more susceptible to a wide range of cancers and have a younger age-onset cancer risk. BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) produce proteins that act as a tumor suppressor. Tumor suppressor protein help to prevent cell form uncontrolled cell growth.
- Gorlin syndrome: Also known as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (NBCCS). People with this condition have a 5% chance of having medulloblastoma. This is a rare genetic disorder that increase the risk for certain type of skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma) or noncancerous tumors.
- Turcot syndrome: A central nervous system tumor, such as a medulloblastoma or pituitary adenoma, as well as colorectal cancer are both present in people with Turcot syndrome, which is an uncommon genetic condition classified as colorectal (colon) cancer with primary brain tumors.
- Exposure to radiation: Ionizing radiation is a category of radiation that increases the risk of brain tumors. This is often found in radiation therapy for curing cancer and atomic bomb radiation exposure.
- Family history of brain tumors: Family history of genetic disorders or immediate family who had brain tumors before, although rare, can enhance one’s risk of having brain tumor.