Central Nervous System Tumors - Childhood: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing a CNS tumor. Use the menu to see other pages.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a tumor. Although risk factors often influence the development of a tumor, most do not directly cause a tumor. Some people with several risk factors never develop a tumor, while others with no known risk factors do.

The cause of most CNS tumors in children is not known. Researchers are studying possible causes of CNS tumors, including viruses. Different types of CNS tumors occur in different age groups. For example, some types of CNS tumors are more common in children younger than 3. Head injury does not appear to cause a CNS tumor.

A small number of CNS tumors occur in families. The following factors may raise a child’s risk of developing a CNS tumor:

  • Neurofibromatosis. Only a small percentage of children with a brain tumor have an identifiable genetic cause, usually in association with a familial disease called neurofibromatosis. Neurofibromatosis is an inherited disorder that causes noncancerous tumors called neurofibromas to form on peripheral nerves in the body, brown spots on the skin, and tissue and bone abnormalities. Neurofibromatosis is also called Recklinghausen’s disease or von Recklinghausen’s disease. Learn more about neurofibromatosis Type 1 and neurofibromatosis Type 2.

  • Other genetic causes. Other, less common genetic conditions associated with a higher risk of a CNS tumor include:

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what body changes or medical problems this disease can cause. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.