Brain and Spinal Cord Cancers

Brain and central nervous system (CNS) cancers are the second most common cancers in children, after leukemia and lymphoma. Five-year survival rates have increased over the past 10–20 years. See our survival rates here.

Treatment of childhood brain/CNS tumors is extraordinarily complex. To have the best possible result, it requires quality care from a team of physicians and therapists from many specialties working together. That’s why we have the Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor Program, a component of the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Program at Randall Children’s Hospital, to care for children with these type of cancers.

Our team of specialists

Every child treated is cared for by a team of pediatric sub-specialists, coordinating their treatment plans for the best care. The team is led by a board-certified pediatric neuro-oncologist; a pediatric neuro-oncology nurse certified by the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON); and a neuro-oncology nurse practitioner, who is dedicated to managing any late effects and long-term follow-up care needs.

Team members include pediatric sub-specialists in:

  • Oncology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Radiation oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiatry (development and rehab specialists)
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Audiology
  • Neuro-opthalmology

 

Plus, your child and family receive complete support from Child Life therapists, social workers, dieticians, on-site educators and more.

Treatment

As treatment methods develop, modern medicine saves more children with cancer every year. Still, treatment for children with brain or spinal cord tumors is complex. That is why our Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor program team regularly reviews each child's care, and it meets twice a month to to discuss specific cases at great depth.

Surgery is the most common treatment for these patients. Some patients receive radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, either in addition to surgery or instead of surgery.

Legacy offers a state-of-the-art option for some children with brain cancer: Gamma Knife. An alternative or addition to surgery, Gamma Knife uses precise radiation to treat brain tumors, not harming the healthy areas around the tumor. Children receive this treatment on the Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center campus. Treatment is under the guidance of Andrew Kee, M.D., a specialist in radiation oncology and the Gamma Knife. Dr. Kee frequently treats children with radiation therapy. Staff members from Randall Children's Hospital travel with our pediatric patients to the treatment to provide any support the child needs.

In addition, our brain tumor patients have access to leading treatment and therapies by participating in clinical trials through the Children’s Oncology Group, a worldwide cooperative supported by the National Cancer Institute. The Children's Oncology Group is dedicated to studying the best treatment for childhood cancers. These treatments include targeted therapies tailored to the specific genetic make-up of each individual tumor.

Follow-up care

Medical advancements have helped reduce the effects of cancer and treatment on children. However, children with brain and central nervous systme tumors some times need long-term care and support to overcome the effects of treatment on their growth and development. Randall Children's Hospital offers complete rehabilitation services and consistent follow-up care. Learn about our pediatric development and rehabilitation services and our Victory Clinic for cancer survivors.