Children's Brain and Spinal Cord Cancer Program

Brain and spinal cord (also known as central nervous system) cancers are the second most common type of cancers in children. Treatment has continued to advance, and more children with cancer are saved every year.

Still, treatment for these children is extraordinarily complex. That is why an entire team of doctors specializing in childhood brain and spinal cord cancers works together on every child's care. The team meets twice a month to to discuss each patient in great depth.

A custom treatment plan

Our specialists develop an individual plan for each child that includes initial treatment and follow-up care. These plans take into account the unique needs of each patient and their family, including quality of life.

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

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.

Our team of specialists

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 long-term side effects ("late effects") and follow-up care.

Team members include pediatric sub-specialists in:

  • Oncology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Radiation oncology, including Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiatry (development and rehab specialists)
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Audiology
  • Neuro-opthalmology

Care for the whole child

At Randall Children's Hospital, we know that children need emotional, spiritual and educational support, too.

  • A social worker providers emotional and practical support and resources for patients and families
  • A child life therapist and teacher works with each child

After treatment ends

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