What is sPNET?

A short description of what stPNET is:


Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors, or SPNETs, are primary brain tumors found mostly in children. The word supratentorial refers to the location of these tumors in the part of the brain called the cerebrum, above the tentorium (the tentlike membrane that covers the cerebellum). This term is used to differentiate these tumors from medulloblastomas, which are sometimes called infratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors (IPNETs) because they are located beneath the tentorium. Primitive refers to the fact that SPNETs arise from cells that have not yet separated into more specialized types of cells. The word neuroectodermal means that these tumors develop out of a layer of cells in the embryo that eventually gives rise to the baby’s nervous system. Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumors are also called cerebral neuroblastomas.


SPNETs are rapidly growing tumors that are considered highly malignant. While they resemble medulloblastomas in terms of the type of cells that give rise to them, they are far less common; the ratio of medulloblastomas to SPNETs is thought to be about 25: 1.

The location of SPNETs in the cerebrum means that they occur in the largest part of the brain—the portion that governs speech, emotions, voluntary muscular movements, and the ability to think, reason, and solve problems. These tumors may metastasize, or spread, to other parts of the central nervous system (CNS) via the cerebrospinal fluid. A doctor looking at a CT scan of one of these tumors will usually see a large mass with clear margins that contains cysts, calcifications (deposits of calcium within the brain cells), and patches of dead tumor cells. In some cases the doctor will also see evidence of bleeding into nearby tissue.

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