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Brain Tumor Center

Patient and Family Education

Childhood Brain Stem Glioma

Staging Your Disease

If a child has a childhood brain stem glioma, the doctor will order additional tests to learn more about the tumor. If a biopsy specimen is taken, the tumor cells will be examined carefully under a microscope to see how they compare to normal cells. This will determine the grade of the tumor. Your child's doctor needs to know the type and grade of tumor in order to plan treatment.

There is no staging for childhood brain stem glioma. The type of treatment given depends on the grade of the tumor, its location, and whether or not your child has received previous treatment.

Untreated Childhood Brain Stem Glioma means that no treatment has been given except to alleviate symptoms. The child's treatment depends on where the tumor is located within the brain stem. In some cases, surgery is not possible and radiation therapy is given. In other cases, as much of the tumor as possible may be removed surgically and the patient may be watched carefully before more therapy is given. Children younger than 3 years of age may be given chemotherapy so that a lower dose of radiation may be given or to delay radiation therapy. Clinical trials are currently evaluating radiation therapy given twice a day (hyperfractionated radiation therapy).

Recurrent Childhood Brain Stem Glioma means that the cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. It may recur in the brain or in another part of the body. The child's treatment depends on the type of tumor, whether the tumor comes back in the place in which it originated or in another part of the brain, and what type of treatment was given previously. Surgery may be performed or chemotherapy may be given. Parents may want to consider entering their child into a clinical trial of a new chemotherapy drug.

This page was last updated on: September 22, 2009.