Childhood brain and spinal tumours

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If childhood brain and spinal cord cancer spreads

Cancer cells have the potential to spread from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body where they can grow into new tumours. This process is called metastasis. The tumours are called metastasis (singular) or metastases (plural). Metastases are also called secondary tumours.

Understanding the usual progression of cancer helps the doctor to predict its probable course, plan treatment for the child and anticipate further care.

Primary brain tumours rarely spread outside the central nervous system (CNS), but they can invade nearby tissues or spread to other areas in the brain and spinal cord. They spread around the CNS through the cerebrospinal fluid.

Medulloblastomas are the only tumours that might spread outside the CNS. They occasionally spread to the bone or bone marrow.

Other primary cancers, such as kidney cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and a type of cancer called a sarcoma, tend to spread (metastasize) to the brain.

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The Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Services Locator helps cancer patients and their families find the services and programs they need in their community.

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