Individualized Treatments for Children with Brain Tumors
Brain tumors in children pose different challenges than those in adults.
Sensitivity to radiation
Children's brains can be affected much more by radiation.
Genetic differences in tumors
Mutations have been found in pediatric tumors that are different from similar tumors in adults.
Ongoing brain development
Brain function isn't complete, so damage to tissue can have unpredictable, long-term effects.
Therapies specifically designed for children treat the tumor, while minimizing damage to the brain.
New therapies designed with children in mind, available only at specialized centers, may offer advantages over traditional chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Treatment will vary depending on age, tumor type, stage and location.
Proton beam therapy
- Uses protons (as opposed to photons in traditional radiation.)
- Protons can be "dialed-in" to penetrate tissue at a more precise depth.
- More radiation can be delivered to a smaller area, helping destroy the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
Targeted drug therapy
- Drugs have been developed that target unique mutations in some pediatric tumors.
- More precise than broader-acting chemotherapy drugs.
- Provides a live, high-definition magnetic resonance image (MRI) view of the brain as surgeons operate.
- Allows surgeons to more precisely remove tumor, sparing damage to developing brain tissue.
A commitment to lifelong support.
Treatment doesn't end when the tumor is removed. A child who has had a brain tumor removed may need a multidisciplinary team of specialized support.
A child's care team might include:
- Neurosurgeons: Removes the brain tumor.
- Neuro-oncologists: Help with brain tumor treatment plan.
- Radiation oncologists: Apply proton or photon therapies.
- Neurologists: Manages brain tumor symptoms.
- Physiatrists: Lead teams that help regain function.
- Physical therapists: Help regain motor control and strength.
- Occupational therapists: Help getting back to daily activities.
During ongoing development
- Neuro-psychologists: Evaluate and help with cognitive rehabilitation and school.
- Endocrinologists: Manage hormone imbalances due to effects of tumor and treatment.