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Brain tumors are abnormal growths inside the skull. They are among the most common types of childhood cancers. Some are benign tumors, which aren't cancer. They can still be serious. Malignant tumors are cancerous.

Childhood brain and spinal cord tumors can cause headaches and other symptoms. However, other conditions can also cause the same symptoms.

Brain tumors may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). They may destroy or damage brain cells by producing inflammation and pressing on other parts of the brain. This pressure causes cerebral edema (brain swelling) and increased intracranial pressure (the pressure within the skull).

The cause of primary brain tumors is unknown, although some tumors such as retinoblastoma tend to be hereditary. Others tumors, such as craniopharyngioma, are present from birth.

Tumors in any part of the brain might raise the pressure inside the skull (known as intracranial pressure). This can be caused by growth of the tumor, swelling in the brain, or blocked flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

Increased pressure can lead to general symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Crossed eyes or blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness or even coma

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