Canadian Cancer Society logo

Childhood brain and spinal tumours

You are here: 

Treatment of atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumours

There is no standard treatment for atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumours (AT/RTs). Because these tumours are usually fast growing, doctors will use a combination of treatments to treat them as aggressively as possible.


Surgery is usually the first treatment offered for AT/RTs. Doctors will try to remove as much of the tumour as possible so that other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, have more effect on the remaining cells.


Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery. AT/RTs are sensitive to chemotherapy. Although it may not completely destroy the cancer, many children have good responses to chemotherapy for a period of time. Several clinical trials are studying the effectiveness of high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue in the treatment of AT/RTs.

Radiation therapy

Radiation is usually combined with chemotherapy after surgery to treat AT/RTs. However, because most children with AT/RT are very young, radiation may not be used as it can damage developing brain cells.

Recurrent atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumours

There is no standard treatment for children with recurrent AT/RTs. Doctors may suggest the child enrol in a clinical trial.


Kathleen Murphy She knew that indoor tanning could pose serious health risks and this motivated her to push for a tan-free prom at her school.

Read Kathleen's story

Facing the financial burden of cancer

Illustration of coins

The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.

Learn more