Pediatric Brain Tumors

Siteman KidsIt’s very rare for children to be diagnosed with cancer. But brain tumors are the second most common type of cancer in children, after leukemia.

There are many different types of brain tumor that can occur in children. Some are benign, or slow-growing, and some are more aggressive.

Siteman Kids, located at Siteman Cancer Center, the Washington University School of Medicine, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, provides outstanding, compassionate care for pediatric brain tumor patients and their families.

Your child is precious to us, and we are here to help.

We offer precision radiation therapy techniques that are ideal for treating brain tumors in children, including proton beam, as well as more clinical trials than any other facility in the region.

In addition, our young patients and their family members benefit from a wide range of supportive services, including physical therapists, child life specialists, counselors, and spiritual care. We will continue to care for your child even after treatment is over, with resources dedicated to helping pediatric brain tumor survivors grow and thrive.

Learn more about how St. Louis Children’s Hospital treats pediatric brain tumor patients.

What are the symptoms of pediatric brain tumors?

Brain tumors cause a number of symptoms in children. They include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sudden problems with vision
  • Difficulty moving one side of the body

Keep in mind that other conditions besides brain tumors can also cause these symptoms.

How are pediatric brain tumors treated?

Brain tumors in children are often treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and medical, or drug, therapy. Your child’s treatment plan will depend on their specific tumor type.

When treating children with brain tumors, it’s imperative that providers work especially hard to protect the healthy tissues of the brain. Childhood and adolescence are times of great growth and brain maturation, and treatments for brain or other cancers can cause developmental problems down the road.

The oncologists, surgeons, and physicians at Siteman Kids and St. Louis Children’s Hospital excel at every form of brain tumor treatment. They offer superior, safer tools and techniques that are not available at most community hospitals, including:

  • Proton beam radiation therapy: This form of radiation therapy delivers radiation in a single stream of protons. It’s an excellent option for children because the beam can be adjusted to stop inside the tumor, rather than passing through the body. Consequently, there is less impact to normal brain tissue. Siteman houses two proton beam machines and is a regional leader in conducting this therapy.
  • Intraoperative MRI: An intraoperative MRI is an MRI scan conducted during a surgical procedure. They help surgeons remove tumors more completely. Siteman was the first facility in the St. Louis region to conduct intraoperative MRI.

Learn more about the treatments available at the Brain Tumor and Neuro-oncology Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Clinical Trials

Sometimes, the best treatment option for your child may be found in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are research studies evaluating new therapies and techniques. Participating in a trial could allow your child to access novel treatments that have not yet been released on the market.

The Washington University Physicians at Siteman Kids and St. Louis Children’s Hospital are national leaders in pediatric brain tumor research. They design and run clinical trials and will include trials as they design your child’s individual plan of care.

Brain tumor patients can even access national clinical trials right here at St. Louis Children’s Hospital through the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium. St. Louis Children’s Hospital is the only member of the consortium in our region.

Access a list of our open clinical trials for pediatric brain tumors.