Brain Tumors in Children

If your child has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, or a tumor is suspected, the expert team of SLUCare Physician Group pediatric neuro-oncologists at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital are ready to provide advanced evaluation and treatment to ensure your child receives the best care possible.

Due to a child’s rapidly developing brain, brain tumors in children are different and often more complex than those in adults. It’s important for your child to see specialists experienced with treating brain tumors in children.

The pediatric neuro-oncology program at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital offers highly-specialized, state-of-the-art care for children with brain tumors and central nervous system disorders. Our doctors focus on continuity of care, providing your child a dedicated physician and nurse practitioner to work with you before, during, and after treatment. Collaborating with other pediatric specialists, we strive to provide your child life-saving diagnostics and treatment to ensure their long-term health.

Types of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are the most common solid tumor diagnosed in children and the second most common pediatric cancer. Our specialists have extensive training and experience diagnosing and treating a range of benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) brain tumors that affect children of all ages, including:

  • Gliomas: benign tumors that develop in the brain or spinal cord
  • Medulloblastoma: common cancerous brain tumor, starts in the lower, back part of the brain, and spreads through spinal fluid
  • PNETs: rare, cancerous tumors that start in the fetal cells of the brain
  • Germ cell tumors: typically migrate from the reproductive region to the brain
  • Spinal cord tumors: develop within or near the spinal cord or spine, resulting in pain and neurological problems
  • Craniopharyngioma: non-cancerous tumor affecting the pituitary gland

Signs & Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Children

A physical exam and evaluation of your child’s medical history will inform our doctors of any symptoms of a brain tumor.

Symptoms of Glioma

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Numbness

Symptoms of Medulloblastoma

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unsteadiness walking
  • Uncoordinated movement

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Tumors

  • Back pain
  • Weakness or paralysis on both sides of the body
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

To confirm the presence of a tumor, our doctors will conduct a neurological exam, looking at your child's reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination, and alertness. Other tests may be performed per your doctor’s recommendation.

Treating Your Child’s Brain Tumor

Our doctors will develop a treatment plan that best suits your child’s case. Treatment might include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of treatments. Our state-of-the-art technology and equipment allows us to see and remove tumors using minimally-invasive techniques. We are able to create a 3D map of your child’s anatomy allowing us to fully understand the location of the tumor, and the critical brain areas that must be preserved to ensure your child’s success. This technology, combined with the expertise of our team, allows us to provide your child the best care possible.

Follow-Up Support for Pediatric Brain Tumors

Following treatment, we offer extensive support in our late effects clinic. We pair your child with trained physical, occupational and speech therapists to provide inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and therapy services. After several years, your child will progress to the neurology follow-up clinic to receive continued support.

If your primary care physician has referred your child to a brain tumor specialist, we are ready to serve you. We see children who have been previously diagnosed with a brain tumor, have related symptoms, or parents in need a second opinion. To reach our brain tumor program, please call 314-268-4000.
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