Children who have CNS embryonal tumors should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating brain tumors in children.
Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other pediatric health care providers who are experts in treating children with brain tumors and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include the following specialists:
Childhood brain tumors may cause symptoms that begin before diagnosis and continue for months or years.
Symptoms caused by the tumor may begin before diagnosis. These symptoms may continue for months or years. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about symptoms caused by the tumor that may continue after treatment.
Some cancer treatments cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.
Side effects from cancer treatment that begin during or after treatment and continue for months or years are called late effects. Late effects of cancer treatment may include the following:
Children diagnosed with medulloblastoma may have cerebellar mutism syndrome after surgery. Symptoms of this syndrome include the following:
Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about the effects cancer treatment can have on your child.
Three types of standard treatment are used:
Surgery is used to diagnose and treat a childhood CNS embryonal tumor as described in the General Information section of this summary.
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.
Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.
Radiation therapy to the brain can affect growth and development in young children. For this reason, clinical trials are studying new ways of giving radiation that may have fewer side effects than standard methods. For childhood CNS embryonal tumors, radiation therapy may be given in the following ways:
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