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Medulloblastoma in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Medulloblastoma in Adult

Contributors: Andrea Wasilewski MD, Jamie Adams MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


A medulloblastoma is a malignant primary brain tumor located in the posterior fossa near the fourth ventricle. It is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. One-third of cases present in children aged younger than 3 years. In adults, the tumor usually presents before age 40.

Initial symptoms may relate to increased intracranial pressure as a consequence of blockage of the fourth ventricle, causing morning headache, nausea / vomiting, and irritability. Later, patients can develop ataxia, frequent falls, papilledema, diplopia, nystagmus, and/or neck stiffness.

This tumor may spread through the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. It is an aggressive tumor and recurrence is common. Five-year survival rates are about 60% in all age groups. Patients with medulloblastoma are considered higher risk if they present as infants or at an older age, have metastatic disease, and if their tumors have aggressive histopathology or specific molecular markers.

Patients with medulloblastoma should have a physical examination and family history taken to rule out basal cell nevus syndrome.


C71.6 – Malignant neoplasm of cerebellum

443333004 – Medulloblastoma

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Pilocytic Astrocytoma
  • Ependymoma
  • Brain stem glioma
  • Cerebellar Hemangioblastoma
  • Brain metastasis
  • Cerebellar stroke
  • Cerebellar stroke
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Meningitis (see Aseptic meningitis, Bacterial meningitis, Fungal meningitis, Carcinomatous meningitis)
  • Migraine headache
  • Neurocysticercosis
  • Tuberculoma (see Tuberculosis)

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Last Reviewed:08/28/2018
Last Updated:08/31/2023
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Medulloblastoma in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Medulloblastoma : Altered mental state, Headache, Nausea/vomiting, Ataxia, Diplopia, Gait disturbance, Nystagmus
Imaging Studies image of Medulloblastoma - imageId=8343471. Click to open in gallery.  caption: '<span>Axial MRI demonstrating hyperintense medulloblastoma in the posterior fossa in a pediatric patient.</span>'
Axial MRI demonstrating hyperintense medulloblastoma in the posterior fossa in a pediatric patient.
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