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Childhood brain and spinal tumours

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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.


Researchers Dr John White and Dr James Gleason Dr John White is developing a new 2-in-1 cancer treatment to outsmart drug resistance.

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Establishing a national caregivers strategy

Illustration of caregivers

The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.

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