Tumors of the brain and spine are the most common solid tumors of childhood and adolescence. They account for approximately 20 percent of all pediatric malignancies. Designed to meet the special multidisciplinary needs of infants, children and adolescents with brain and spinal cord tumors, the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program includes physicians with expertise in pediatric neurological surgery, pediatric oncology, radiation oncology, neurology, neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-radiology and pathology who provide unique expertise to diagnose and treat the complicated medical issues of children with newly-diagnosed brain tumors. Program members also include child life specialists, nursing care coordinators, research specialists, neuropsychologists, education specialists, physical and occupational therapists, social workers and nutritionists. Also, because most children with brain tumors will be cured of their tumor, the program has a large brain tumor survivors program to address the late effects, including neuro-cognitive problems, endocrine deficiencies, secondary cancers and growth problems.
The Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program has evaluated and treated more than 1,600 children with newly diagnosed brain tumors since 1985. The multidisciplinary neuro-oncology tumor board meets weekly to determine therapy for all children with newly diagnosed and progressive brain tumors. The Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program also coordinates the Neurofibromatosis Clinic at Children's Medical Center.
- Evaluates 80-90 newly diagnosed children with tumors of the brain and spine each year.
- Active participant in National Cancer Institute, Children's Oncology Group and UT Southwestern-sponsored clinical studies.
- Daniel Bowers, M.D. published a study examining risk factors for survival for children with recurrent medulloblastoma that was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery in 2007.
Research and Future Plans
- Novel therapies:
- Toxicity and effectiveness of Accuray stereotactic radiosurgery for children less than 3 years of age with malignant brain tumors.
- Treatment of plexiform neurofibromas among children with neurofibromatosis type-1
- New, potentially less toxic, treatments for infants with malignant brain tumors
- Evaluations of prognostic factors for children with pilocytic astrocytomas, the most common brain tumor that occurs during childhood.
- Identified the first biological prognostic factor, MIB-1, for children with pilocytic astrocytomas
- New study to identify previously unknown genetic mutations among children with pilocytic astrocytomas.
- Long-term side effects of children with brain tumors
- Lead study through the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study to identify risk factors for stroke among survivors of malignant brain tumors.
- Examination of survivors of malignant brain tumors who were treated with radiation therapy for risk factors for cerebrovascular disease and stroke.
- Study of Aracept for children with attention problems after brain tumor therapy.