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Staging is a way of describing where the tumor is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body. Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the tumor's stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best and can help predict a patient's prognosis (chance of recovery).
Several types of childhood CNS tumors can spread through the spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and the spine. For most types of CNS tumors, the tumor is described as either high-grade or low-grade, depending on how much of the tumor is left after surgery, the child's age, and whether the tumor has spread. In general, a child with a low-grade tumor has a better prognosis.
A recurrent tumor is a tumor that comes back after treatment. If there is a recurrence, the tumor may need to be staged and graded again.
There are different stage descriptions for different types of tumors. Read more about staging for a specific type of CNS tumor. For example, review the staging section under astrocytoma if that is the specific diagnosis.