Medulloblastoma is considered to be the most common malignant brain tumor in children up to the age of 15 years. It develops as a malignant tumor in the area of the cerebellum, from where it usually grows to an adjacent cerebral cavity and continues to spread to healthy tissue.
Often the brainstem is also affected by medulloblastoma. Metastases are predominantly formed at the sites that are in contact with the nerve water. In addition to the cerebral chambers themselves, this also includes areas around the brain, the meninges and the spinal cord.
On average, about 90 children a year develop a medulloblastoma. Boys are affected about one and a half times as often as girls. The age of the disease is usually between five and eight years.
The medulloblastoma usually develops spontaneously, which means that inheritance is unlikely to be the cause of the tumor. Nevertheless, the causes of the disease have not been adequately researched so far. However, it is known that the medulloblastoma degenerates from immature, embryonic cells, thus malignantly altering cells of the nervous tissue.
In adult-onset disorders, there has been a recurring association between childhood radiotherapy, for example in the treatment of leukemia, and the development of the tumor at later ages.
Medulloblastoma rapidly increases in size and causes early symptoms relatively early. First, the tumor leads to increased pressure inside the skull. This results in a number of nonspecific complaints, such as headache, nausea and vomiting or dizziness. Typically, the symptoms appear in the morning after getting up and weakening during the day.
The nausea occurs mainly in the morning and on an empty stomach. Those affected also feel an increasing malaise and a gradual deterioration of their physical and mental condition. For example, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty sleeping. If the tumor is located in the area behind the eyes, visual disturbances can occur.
Then the sufferer perceives double images, switches or suffers from eye tremors. A medulloblastoma also displaces the cerebellar structures. This causes movement disorders and other neurological complaints. Possible concomitant symptoms are numbness or tingling. In the worst case, paralysis of the arms and legs occurs.
With the growth of the tumor, the nature of the patient may change, which in the later stages of the disease often appears irritated, restless or confused. In addition, a hydrocephalus is formed as a result of the drainage disturbances of the nerve water. Other external signs may be tumors in the spinal canal and in the skull.
Many symptoms of medulloblastoma are uncharacteristic, so they are common in other diseases as well, and may have a harmless cause.
From headaches to nausea, dizziness and blurred vision, to numbness, the list of symptoms is long. Also coordination difficulties can occur in the course of the disease. All symptoms that are triggered by the increasing pressure in the brain or caused by metastases, especially in the area of the spinal cord, are conceivable.
In particularly young patients, an increased increase in the circumference of the head and the so-called hydrocephalus can often be detected in the advanced stage.
The diagnosis is based on an in-depth medical history. This is followed by the imaging procedures. Computer tomography and magnetic resonance tomography are used to obtain the first examination results. If there is a reasonable suspicion of a medulloblastoma, a tissue sample will be surgically removed and subjected to a histological examination.
A removal and examination of the nerve water is necessary. On the basis of the examination results, the type of tumor, the location and size as well as the scattering are diagnosed.
Since medulloblastoma is a tumor in the brain, it leads to the usual symptoms of cancer. As a rule, in a very unfavorable case, the cancer can also spread to other regions of the body and also affect healthy tissue there. This reduces the life expectancy of the person affected. For this reason, further complications or chances of recovery depend very much on the time of diagnosis and on the severity of the medulloblastoma.
The sufferers suffer primarily from severe headaches and dizziness. Furthermore, it comes to vomiting or squinting. The patients experience disorders of sensitivity or paralysis at various body sites. In many cases, there are also disorders of coordination or concentration. Also vision problems can occur and thereby significantly reduce the quality of life of the patient.
The treatment of medulloblastoma may be operative and is not associated with complications. Furthermore, patients are dependent on chemotherapy, which can lead to various side effects. Further follow-up examinations are necessary after treatment. Whether it comes through the Medulloblastom to a reduction in life expectancy, can not be predicted universally generally.
The medulloblastoma occurs in most cases in childhood. Therefore, especially adolescents are affected by the disease and should be examined at the first signs. If the child complains of dizziness, headache or difficulty sleeping, a doctor should be consulted. Concerning impaired concentration, abnormality in learning or repeated vomiting is a matter of concern. Characteristic of the Medulloblastom is a strong symptomatology at the beginning of the day. In the next few hours, the intensity of the complaints usually diminishes. Often the feeling of recovery sets in at the end of the day until the next morning all the symptoms recur.
Children who suffer from sudden vision problems, gait insecurities and an increased risk of accidents and injuries should be referred to a doctor. Sensory disorders of the skin, numbness or a tingling sensation on the skin require a doctor. Movement disorders, a reduction in well-being and behavioral abnormalities should be medically clarified. If the child shows unusual mood swings, decreases the school performance and it comes to a withdrawal behavior, should a doctor visit. Swelling of the back along the spine, swelling, or other changes in the appearance of the skin are signs of a disorder that requires medical attention. A special warning to be examined immediately is an unnatural increase in the circumference of the head.
The treatment chances are favorable for early detection of the medulloblastoma. Today, more than 70 percent of patients can be cured if the tumor is detected and treated in good time.
First, the tumor is removed as completely as possible. For this, the skullcap is surgically opened and the diseased tissue is excised. This is done, if possible, in the microsurgical or laser surgical procedure in order to minimize the subsequent physical symptoms. In addition, a therapy with radioactive radiation is performed because the tumor cells are particularly radiosensitive.
Alternatively, chemotherapy is given. Depending on the age of the patient and its development, possible side effects of both forms of therapy must be weighed.
In the case of very large tumors or if the medulloblastoma is located in a very difficult to access place, the diseased tissue can initially only be surgically removed and subsequently reduced in size with radiation and chemotherapy. So in a second surgical procedure, finally, the remaining material can be removed.
In addition, it may be necessary to curb side effects. Due to the medulloblastoma, the drainage of the nerve water can be closed or transferred. A hose system must then correct this malposition. In this case, a so-called external drainage is often used, with which the nerve water is discharged to the outside.
The prognosis depends on the size of the tumor and the extent of tumor removal. Basically, there are bad prospects when metastases have formed. After surgery, about half of all patients are tumor free. You can continue a normal life. However, it can not be ruled out that the tumor will reappear. That's why aftercare is very important.
Medulloblastoma is more common in children than in adults. Just over every fifth brain tumor goes back to this disease among the minors; For adults, it is only about one percent. Ten years after the start of treatment, 70 percent of all sick children still live. Most commonly, children between the ages of 4 and 9 and adults over the age of 30 are affected. The variants of the tumor have different expectations. The majority of patients survive a desmoplastic medulloblastoma. Poorer prospects of cure arise in an anaplastic or large cell medulloblastoma.
Without treatment, patients risk that the medulloblastoma increases and continues to penetrate the brain. Only a consistent therapy can lead to a freedom from symptoms. Life expectancy is significantly reduced without treatment.
Basically, it is recommended to protect yourself and your children from radiation and pollution. Contact with carcinogenic chemicals should also be avoided. In addition, a healthy, balanced diet and sufficient exercise strengthens the immune system. However, there are no general measures that prevent the development of a medulloblastoma.
If a medulloblastoma has been diagnosed, surgical removal of the tumor is definitely indicated. Which measures can be taken by the affected person depends on the severity of the tumor and any concomitant symptoms. The individual complaints can be treated in principle.
Cool pads on forehead and neck help against the typical headaches. Gentle natural remedies such as belladonna or arnica can help. Nausea and vomiting can usually be alleviated by a rich meal. If severe symptoms such as blurred vision or balance disorders occur, the doctor should be switched on. Self-treatment with home remedies is best avoided.
After a surgical procedure, the affected person should take care for a few weeks. At the same time, regular check-ups by the doctor are necessary in order to detect possible recurrences or other problems at an early stage. Should physical complaints develop as a result of radiation treatment, medical advice is also required. General measures such as exercise and a healthy and balanced diet help against typical after-effects such as fatigue and fatigue. Accompanying these measures, a therapist can be called in to assist the patient in dealing with the cancer.