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Your child will have a number of tests to investigate their symptoms and confirm a diagnosis of a brain or other CNS tumour, including:

  • medical history and physical examination, including a neurological examination
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • medical imaging, which may include:
    • X-ray
    • computed tomography (CT) scan
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • biopsy – where a small sample of the tumour is removed to be examined under a microscope
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap) – where a sample of cerebrospinal fluid is taken to be examined under a microscope.

These tests are explained in more detail in How is cancer diagnosed?.


If your child is diagnosed with a brain or other CNS tumour, some of the diagnostic tests will also help to stage the tumour. Staging determines where the tumour is, how big it is and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. This is important to determine the outlook (prognosis) for your child, and to decide on the best options for treatment.

There is no standard staging system for childhood brain and other CNS tumours. Instead, tumours are staged based on a range of factors (such as size and location of the tumour) that are classified into different risk groups.

published: Sunday, 23 August, 2015