Tumors of the brain and spine account for a large number of tumors or cancers of any kind that occur in children. There are a variety of pediatric brain tumors including:
- Germ cells tumors
- Intrinsic tumors of the brain such as astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, and ependymoma
- Pineal parenchymal tumors
- Tumors of nerve sheaths seen in neurofibromatosis, such as meningioma, acoustic neuroma, and neurofibroma
Experts at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital collaborate when treating brain tumors in children. Our interdisciplinary team includes pediatricians, pediatric oncologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons. The treatments we offer include standard radiation therapies and chemotherapies as well as autologous bone marrow transplant for the treatment of malignant brain tumors.
Children with brain tumors will receive an evaluation that may include a CT scan and an MRI scan as well as a full evaluation for a possible biopsy by a neurosurgeon. In order to make a diagnosis, a neurosurgeon will need to get a sample of the tumor tissue. Then, one of our pathologists will evaluate it microscopically. At this point, the multidisciplinary neuro-oncology team will evaluate the child for additional therapies including pediatric radiation therapy or pediatric chemotherapy.
In addition, we offer various research protocols for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. As a result of this collaboration, we can provide children with the most innovative nonsurgical treatment options.
When surgery is required, our pediatric neurosurgeons are able to treat both superficial brain tumors and tumors deep within the brain through stereotactic (3-D computer imaging) techniques.
The brain and spine tumor program is supported by research grants from national foundations that help us to continue to develop better approaches for treating nervous system tumors. Ongoing studies include molecular approaches to sensitize tumors to radiation therapy as well as viral delivery of genes that can target tumor cells for elimination.