Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors (PNET)

What are primitive neuroectodermal tumors?

Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors (PNET) and pineoblastoma are a group of tumors defined by their appearance and are thought to develop from primitive (undeveloped) nerve cells in the brain. They appear similar to medulloblastoma and were once considered a single tumor. 

What are the symptoms of PNETs?

PNETs and pineoblastomas are aggressive tumors that tend to attach to parts of the brain that control movement, thought and sensation. Scientists have not been able to find an identifiable cause or risk factors for these tumors. There doesn't appear to be a genetic predisposition, meaning that these diseases do not seem to run in families.

Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor — each child may experience symptoms differently. Common symptoms include: headache, nausea, fatigue, seizures, behavior or personality changes, unexplained weight loss or gain, difficulty looking upward or weakness on one side of the body.

How we care for primitive PNETs

Patients with PNETs and pineoblastoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Medulloblastoma Program.