Tumor of the Cerebellum

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Intracranial tumors can be classified according to their benign or malignant nature based on their histological type; that is to say, depending on the nature of the cells that proliferate there, but also their location. In adults, the majority of tumors are located above the tentorium of the cerebellum, the part of the brain between the upper and lower brain. Infratentorial tumors, which are present below this part, are more often present in children.

The cerebellum's main roles lie in motor functions and the coordination of movement and balance. In children, pilocytic astrocytoma, a benign tumor, is often the cause. In adults, it can be a benign meningioma or glioma or a malignant glioblastoma or metastasis, a tumor mass resulting from the migration of cells from another cancer.


Symptoms

The symptoms of a tumor of the cerebellum are of gradual onset, and unfortunately their benign or malignant nature cannot be predicted. There are two types of symptoms associated with a tumor of the cerebellum.


The first type includes symptoms related to the cerebellum itself, which are grouped under the term cerebellar syndrome. They cover: uncoordinated movements, gait, balance disorders, tremors, and dizziness, among others.

The second type includes symptoms associated with intracranial hypertension due to the increase of secondary pressure developed by the tumor mass or to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid that cannot normally be discharged. They cover: headache during increased physical activity, which are typically stronger in the morning; nausea or vomiting (projectile); and blurred vision or double vision.

These symptoms are inconsistent and may not all be present at once, depending on the location of the tumor.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of a cerebellar tumor is based on the clinical signs. A CT scan or MRI will highlight the injury, and depending on the features found in imaging, the nature of it.


Because of the deep-set location of the cerebellum and the difficulty with which it can be accessed, biopsies can be difficult, and surgical removal may be decided from the outset. In the case of cancer, staging will be done, i.e. the search for additional spreading of other cancers to other sites.

Treatment

The treatment of cancer of the cerebellum generally consists of removing the tumor by performing surgery. The operation is performed by a neurosurgeon specializing in this type of intervention. A scan can help guide the surgery. Depending on the type of cells involved and the benign or malignant nature, a doctor may or may not proceed with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

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