The prognosis for children with brain tumors is improving. 80 percent of children and young adults with malignant brain tumors now go into remission, compared to 10 to 20 percent only 20 years ago. Nonetheless, treatment of pediatric brain tumors poses significant challenges to the child and family, and our team is there with a comprehensive approach.
Surgery represents the first line of treatment when addressing pediatric brain tumors: More than 80 percent of brain tumors can now be removed. The neurosurgery and pediatric oncology groups are supported by an excellent Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Sophisticated nonsurgical therapies are now the mainstay of ongoing treatment for pediatric brain tumors. Chemotherapy, Gamma Knife® radiosurgery, and conformal radiation therapy extend hope to children with benign or malignant brain tumors. Pediatric oncologists are able to offer state-of-the-art chemotherapy on clinical trials in conjunction with the Children’s Oncology Group, in addition to other multi-center pilot trials.
Cleveland Clinic pediatric neuro-oncologists maintain a special interest in midline central nervous system tumors, including those in the suprasellar area, third ventricle, pineal region and cerebellum, as well as spinal cord and brain tumors.
The care and long-term multidisciplinary follow-up for pediatric brain tumors or neurological complication of cancer are coordinated through the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department. The team follows more than 300 patients, from infancy through 21 years of age, in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program, and discusses their cases at a weekly conference about pediatric brain tumors. The approximately 50 children and adolescents with brain tumors diagnosed each year at Cleveland Clinic are cared for in the home-like environment of the Pediatric Oncology Clinic and child and adolescent units at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, all of which are newly renovated.
Cleveland Clinic pediatric neurologists also run one of the largest neurofibromatosis clinics in the world. Our neuro-oncology team treats many of these children who harbor spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and brain tumors.The pediatric brain tumor team also participates in chemotherapy clinical trials to treat some patients with neurofibromatosis.
The Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology recently expanded its offices to include more state-of-the-art equipment and medical facilities. Pediatric cancer physicians, nurse practitioners, a pediatric psychologist, child life specialists, social workers, and oncology nurses treat patients in an environment that best suits the needs of the children and their parents.
They provide the most innovative pediatric therapy in a coordinated multidisciplinary approach, while at the same time offering support to the patient and patient's family. This involves ongoing education to families and staff on pediatric brain tumors and participation in basic and clinical research while embracing families and children in all phases of brain tumor therapy.
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