Central Nervous System Tumors (Brain and Spinal Cord) - Childhood: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2023

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

What are the risk factors for a childhood CNS tumor?

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. Head injury and cell phone use do not appear to cause a CNS tumor.

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.

A small number of CNS tumors are associated with a genetic predisposition to cancer. Tell your doctor if multiple members of your family have a history of cancer or other tumors, especially when diagnosed at a young age. The following genetic predispositions to cancer may raise a child’s risk of developing a CNS tumor:

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what changes or medical problems a childhood CNS tumor can cause. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.