What is Medulloblastoma?

Diagram of the brain with the cerebellum highlighted
Medulloblastomas most commonly form in the cerebellum – the bottom section of the brain located at the base of the skull.

Medulloblastoma is a primary central nervous system (CNS) tumor that is fast growing. It usually appears as a solid mass in the cerebellum between the brain and brain stem. It originates in the spinal cord or brain and is classified as a grade IV cancer. In up to 1/3 of patients, the tumor may spread to the brain lining and spinal cord before diagnosis. Medulloblastoma is also the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Although it may occur at any age, it most often is diagnosed in young children.

Medulloblastoma can spread to other areas of the central nervous system through the cerebrospinal fluid.  Rarely, it may also spread to the bones or the lymphatic system.  It is an embryonal neuroepithelial tumor because it forms in fetal cells that remain after birth. Though medulloblastoma is not inherited, syndromes such as Gorlin's syndrome or Turcot's syndrome might increase the risk of medulloblastoma.

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