Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT) | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors?

Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRTs) can cause a variety of symptoms in children depending on their size and location. Keep in mind, the symptoms may resemble other more common conditions or medical problems. It is important to consult your child's physician if you have concerns.

ATRT symptoms can come on quickly, in a matter of days or weeks, due to the fast-growing nature of these tumors. ATRT symptoms include:

  • headache, generally upon awakening in the morning
  • hydrocephalus, where there is a buildup of fluid in the brain which can result in increased head size in infants or headaches and vomiting in older children
  • nausea and vomiting, often worse in the morning and improve throughout the day
  • lethargy and fatigue
  • trouble with balance and coordination

What causes ATRTs?

As a parent, you undoubtedly want to know what may have caused your child’s tumor. It’s important to remember that nothing you could have done or avoided doing would have prevented the tumor from developing. In most cases, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors are associated with a specific mutation (INI1) that can occur spontaneously or be inherited. More than 90 percent of cases of ATRT are associated with this mutation and are not inherited. However, the cause of this abnormality is not known. If this mutation (INI1) has been inherited, your child may be at increased risk of developing other tumors.