Central Nervous System Tumors - Childhood: Risk Factors

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing a CNS tumor. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

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 a variety of 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 three. Head injury does not appear to cause a CNS tumor.

A small number of CNS tumors occur in families. However, 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, less common genetic conditions associated with a higher risk of a CNS tumor include Li-Fraumeni syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, nevoid basal cell syndrome, and Turcot syndrome.

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