As with adults, surgery is usually the first step in treating a child’s brain tumor. The goal is to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible while maintaining neurological function.
Surgery is also performed for a biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is taken to examine the types of cells found in the tumor. A biopsy is very useful in determining the most effective diagnosis and treatment plan.
Other therapies used to treat brain tumors include:
Steroids to treat and prevent swelling in the brain
High-dose chemotherapy, stem-cell rescue and blood and marrow transplantation
Supportive care for the side effects of the tumor or treatment
Rehabilitation to regain lost motor skills and muscle strength
Continuous follow-up care to manage disease, detect recurrence of the tumor and manage late effects of treatment
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival vary greatly from child to child. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis. Continuous follow-up care is essential for a child diagnosed with a brain tumor, because the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, as well as second malignancies can occur in survivors of brain tumors.