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Tooth In Child’s Brain Sheds New Light On Tumor Formation

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Surgeons removed a fully developed tooth from a child's brain tumor. (Getty Images)

Surgeons removed a fully developed tooth from a child’s brain tumor. (Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Doctors say a recent medical case could help uncover new treatments to fight brain tumors.

A 4-month-old Maryland child was at the heart of the case, reports LiveScience.com. Doctors became concerned when part of the infant’s head seemed to be growing abnormally.

A brain scan revealed what appeared to be the beginnings of a jaw and a tooth inside a tumor.

“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it’s unheard of,” said Dr. Narlin Beaty. He’s a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, he performed the boy’s surgery.

Craniopharyngiomas contain calcium deposits, “but when we pulled out a full tooth…I think that’s something slightly different,” Beaty told Live Science.

Researchers suspected that these tumors develop from the same cells involved in making teeth but had never seen actual teeth in these tumors, until now.

These types of tumors are most often seen in children from ages 5 to 14. They are not usually seen in children under the age of 2.

Craniopharyngiomas form in the pituitary gland, a part of the brain that oversees many important hormones.

Sufferers of these tumors often develop hormonal problems.

The boy is  recovering from the operation, says Beaty. “He’s doing extremely well, all things considered. This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the modern surgical era this child would not have survived.”

The report is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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