About 2,500 Indian children suffer from Medulloblastoma yearly
According to a report, over 2,500 Indian kids suffer from Medulloblastoma, a common pediatric malignant primary brain tumor. Unlike other brain tumors, Medulloblastomas spread through the cerebrospinal fluid and frequently metastasizes (spreads to other organs, though not directly connected to them) along the brain surface, and spinal cord. The report also states that about 40,000-50,000 Indians are diagnosed with a brain tumor every year.
What is Medulloblastoma?
Medulloblastoma, the most common type of malignant primary brain tumor in children, originates in the cerebellum or posterior fossa of the brain, which is situated towards the back, on the skull's floor. These tumors are rapidly growing non-invasive tumors that spread through cerebrospinal fluid. The survival rate in children is better than adults; reports show that as the age increases, survival rate decreases.
Affects children with developing brain
Brain Tumor Foundation of India states that common brain tumors in children include medulloblastoma, gliomas, astrocytoma, ependymoma, PNET and germ cell tumors. In most of the cases, the reason is unknown but in some, neurofibromatosis-a hereditary disease causes tumors. Negative effects of a brain tumor and its treatment are more devastating in children, especially in the brain's function, physical and mental growth.
Over 20% of affected people are chidren
The report shows that of the total number of people affected with a brain tumor in India every year, over 20% are children. Doctors said that the percentage of affected children was as low as 5% until a year ago. They also stated that about 90% of the medulloblastoma cases are curable if detected early; after detection, treatment protocol must be followed correctly.
Symptoms could lead to misdiagnosis
Vikas Gupta, Director & Head–Neurosurgery, Interventional, Endovascular Neurosurgery at BLK Hospital, stated that the percentage of brain tumor cases in children has increased over the past few years. He said that the symptoms of the brain tumor mostly include repeated incidents of vomiting and morning headaches. He also added that these symptoms could lead to a misdiagnosis of a migraine or gastrointestinal diseases.
Effects of brain tumor in children
Brain Tumor Foundation of India said that brain tumor is the second most common type of cancer in Indian children after leukemia. According to doctors, children affected with brain tumor "develop stumbling gait, frequent falls, diplopia, papilledema, and sixth cranial nerve palsy." Decerebrate attacks may also appear at later stages while positional dizziness, nystagmus, facial sensory loss, and motor weakness may also be present.
Brain damage could be a serious problem
Satnam Chhabra, Head–Neuro and Spine Department, Sir Gangaram Hospital said: "Brain damage not just in children but as a whole can be a serious problem. It can cause problems with thinking, seeing, or speaking. It can also cause personality changes or seizures."
Sometimes surgery is not possible
Dr. Shailesh Jain, Senior Consultant-Neuro Surgery, said that in some cases of a brain tumor in children, surgery is not possible especially when the tumor is in the brain stem or certain other places. In such cases, patients could receive other treatments like radiation therapy. He added that radiation therapy, which usually follows surgery, kills tumor cells with "high-energy x-rays, gamma rays, or protons."
Only 6% children get proper treatment
According to experts, if treated in time, affected children can live up to 70-80 years without problem. Official data shows that as of now, only 6% of the affected children are able to get the proper treatment for brain tumor. Reports indicate that a small percent of brain tumors are associated with known environmental hazards (exposure to certain radiations or toxins) or genetic disorders.