Brain Tumours

What is a Brain Tumour?

The uncontrolled or abnormal growth of cells which leads to a mass, is known as a tumour. When a mass is located in the brain, it is called a brain tumour. However, all tumours are different and there are many factors including their location in the brain, rate of growth and the cells involved, that lead to their catergorization. For example, your doctor may refer to;

  • Low-grade Vs. High Grade: Usually, low-grade tumours are slow-growing, while high-grade tumours are fast-growing and aggressive.
  • Primary Vs. Secondary: Primary brain tumours originate in the brain. Secondary brain tumours are made up of cells that have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. In children, most brain tumours are primary.
  • Localised Vs. invasive: A localized tumour is confined to one area and is generally easier to remove,. An invasive tumour has spread to surrounding areas and is more difficult to remove completely.

What causes Brain Tumours?

Although we know that a tumour is caused by normal cells growing abnormally or too quickly, the exact cause of this abnormal growth is still unknown, though research continues on possible genetic and environmental causes. Evidence suggests a higher risk of developing brain tumours for children with certain genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome.

Types of Brain Tumours

Two of the most common forms of brain tumours in children are astrocytomas and ependymomas.

  • Astrocytomas originate from brain cells called astrocytes. This type of tumour doesn't usually spread outside the brain and spinal cord and doesn't usually affect other organs.
  • Ependymomas are tumours that usually begin in the lining of brain ventricles.


For childhood brain tumours, there is usually a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Recent advancements in all these methods have contributed to better understanding and outcomes of treatment areas.

Brain tumour management at the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre

Our centre consists of health professionals qualified in assessing the cognitive effects of brain tumours. Cognitive impacts are individual depending on the area of tumour and the extent of treatment received. Typically brain and cognitive functioning can be impacted, hence accurate assessment of any deficits is important in relation to understanding how you child will be able to perform and learn in the classroom. We have numerous types of therapy including counselling, psycho-education, behavioural and emotional management. We often meet with school teachers and counsellors to describe the issues and help them form an individual educational plan where appropriate.

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