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Brain tumors in children develop the same way that any other type of tumor in the body develops. Cells begin to grow abnormally, and then begin to increase in numbers at an abnormal rate. The exact cause of this development is not known, but there are several risk factors that may make a child more prone to tumors in the brain.
Tumors in the brain are generally categorized in a couple of different ways. They can either be localized, meaning the tumors remain in one area of the brain, or they can be invasive, which means they spread to other parts of the brain. Other categories that may define the characteristics of a tumor include whether it is primary or secondary. Primary tumors are those that begin in the brain, and, in general, stay in the brain. Secondary brain tumors in children begin in other parts of the body and metastasize, or spread, to the brain.
There are several risk factors that may make children more susceptible to developing brain tumors. These risk factors do not cause the condition, but may increase the chances of a child getting a tumor. Not everyone who has these risk factors will develop tumors, and some children may have brain tumors without suffering any of the common risk factors.
Brain tumors in children are the most common type of childhood tumors. They can affect any child, but are most often found in boys. Most of these tumors are also found in children who are Caucasian.
Certain diseases, such as retinoblastoma, neurofibromatosis, or von Hippel-Lindau disease can also increase the risk of a child developing a brain tumor. These are genetic diseases that affect a child's genes and cells. Because these cells are affected by the disease, there is an increased risk of their growing abnormally and becoming tumors.
Brain tumors in children are often passed down through families. Children who have close relatives who have suffered from a tumor of the brain may be more at risk for developing this condition themselves. The chances increase dramatically if one or both of the parents have suffered from a brain tumor.
Some chemicals and exposure to certain levels of radiation can also be a risk factor for brain tumors in children. Many of the chemicals are thought to change the way the cells in the body behave. Children who are exposed to certain chemicals or levels of radiation are at risk for abnormal cell development, which can lead to brain tumors.