Our Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Program includes a dedicated team of pediatric neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and other specialists dedicated to diagnosing and treating pediatric brain tumors.
Brain tumor treatment requires skill and experience. No other hospital in the region has all of these services available for children with brain tumors — and the expertise to manage their treatment.
Brain Tumor Clinical Trials
Many pediatric brain tumors are difficult to treat. They do not always respond to standard cancer treatments. When that happens, we have options.
We are always looking at new ways to treat brain tumors with clinical trials. We use trials to test new treatments to see if they work. Find out more about pediatric brain tumor research.
Types of Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment
We treat many brain tumors using some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The treatments we use will depend on your child’s individual needs and factors including the type of tumor and its location, as well as your child’s age and health status.
Your child’s doctor and health care team will talk to you about any possible treatments. We will discuss the benefits and risks of any treatments so you understand your options.
Brain tumor surgery
The first step in treating most brain tumors is surgery. We remove as much of the brain tumor as we can. We often follow surgery with radiation and chemotherapy.
Intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lets our neurosurgeons see the brain in real time while they are operating.
The operating room is equipped with an MRI machine and surgeons take MRI scans during surgery. These images give surgeons a more precise view of the tumor. This added precision can reduce the need for repeat surgeries.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery
When traditional surgery is not an option, we often use Gamma Knife radiosurgery. This minimally invasive treatment, a form of stereotactic radiosurgery, does not require any incisions. Gamma Knife lets us target tumors with ultra-precise amounts of radiation.
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
We use a CT scan and a 3D model of the brain tumor to precisely aim small beams of radiation at the tumor from different directions.
IMRT is particularly useful for children with large tumors. It also helps reduce side effects by minimizing healthy tissue’s exposure to radiation.
Proton beam therapy
This radiation treatment targets brain tumors with precise radiation. Proton therapy uses particles called protons — instead of the high-energy X-rays used in traditional radiation therapy — to deliver radiation to destroy cancer cells.
Because it is so precise, proton therapy allows providers to use higher doses of radiation than traditional radiation treatments. Very little radiation goes beyond the tumor, limiting damage to surrounding tissue and reducing side effects from radiation treatment.
Pediatric Neuroblastoma Treatment
We offer standard treatments for neuroblastoma including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, along with cutting-edge options like MIBG therapy.
MIBG (metaiodobenzylguanidine) is an investigational drug designed to treat children with advanced neuroblastoma. MIBG therapy, which is given through an intravenous line (IV) over a few hours, delivers targeted radiation directly to the neuroblastoma tumor cells. Patients may receive this therapy by participating in a clinical trial.
Because it uses very high levels of radiation, MIBG therapy requires a lead-lined room. Patients must stay in the room for several days while radiation leaves their bodies.
Our specially designed MIBG therapy suite is the only one of its kind within 300 miles of St. Louis, and one of only 20 in the country. The suite includes a patient room and a separate hotel-like private room for family members. A lead-lined window between the rooms allows families and children to see each other and interact.
Follow-up care after treatment
From regular evaluations and checkups to rehabilitation and help with school, we continue supporting children and young adults after their treatment is over. Find out about our after care program.