Childhood brain and spinal tumours

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Treatment of germ cell tumours of the brain

Treatment of germ cell tumours of the brain depends on:

  • the size and location of the tumour
  • the type of tumour
  • whether the cancer has spread
  • the age of the child

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the standard treatment for germinomas. It may be the only type of therapy needed because these types of germ cell tumours are very sensitive to radiation and can often be cured with radiation therapy. In children under 3 years of age, radiation is delayed (if possible) to avoid long-term complications of radiation on developing brain cells. In these cases chemotherapy will be given until the child reaches the age of 3 years.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often combined with radiation therapy. This has proven to improve survival rates and allows doctors to give a lower dose of radiation. Chemotherapy could also be used to delay giving radiation therapy to children under 3 years of age.

Surgery

Surgery is the standard treatment for suspected germ cell tumours. Surgery may be limited to a small biopsy, or the surgeon may try to remove all of the tumour (complete resection).

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