Medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma

Medulloblastoma is a fast-growing, high-grade tumor. It is the most common of the embryonal tumors—tumors that arise from “emybryonal” or “immature” cells at the earliest stage of their development. The various types of medulloblastoma include:

  • classic medulloblastoma
  • desmoplastic nodular medulloblastoma
  • large-cell or anaplastic medulloblastoma
  • medulloblastoma with neuroblastic or neuronal differentiation
  • medulloblastoma with glial differentiation
  • medullomyoblastoma
  • melanotic medulloblastoma

Location:

Medulloblastoma is always located in the cerebellum—the lower, rear portion of the brain. It is unusual for medulloblastomas to spread outside the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms:

The most common symptoms of medulloblastoma include behavioral changes, changes in appetite, symptoms of increased pressure on the brain (eg, headache, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness, as well as problems with coordination). Unusual eye movements may also occur.

Treatment:

Treatment consists of surgical removal of as much tumor as possible, radiation, and then chemotherapy (in older children and adults).

Incidence:

Medulloblastoma is relatively rare, accounting for less than 2% of all primary brain tumors and 18% of all pediatric brain tumors. More than 70% of all pediatric medulloblastomas are diagnosed in children under age 10. Very few occur in children up to age 1.

Medulloblastoma in adults is less common, but it does occur. About one-third of all medulloblastomas diagnosed in the United States are found in adults between the ages of 20-44. The incidence in adults sharply decreases in frequency after age 45, with very few older adults having this tumor. Medulloblastoma occurs more often in men than in women.