Brain Tumors in Children

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Your world shattered when you found out your child has a brain tumor. Your child feels scared and overwhelmed. And so do you.

At UVA Children’s, we're here to support you. We offer top-level brain tumor treatment from Virginia's #1 Children's hospital. You'll get the answers and the expertise you need to feel confident in your child's care.

Why UVA Children's When Your Child Has a Brain Tumor

Brain tumors in children develop in different parts of the brain than adults. The treatment is different, too. Our pediatric experts have the special training needed to treat brain tumors in children.

Depending on the type and location of the tumor, your child may need other specialists. At UVA Children’s, you can trust we have experts on staff for a range of conditions and complications. All of them have experience personalizing treatment for children with brain tumors.

The First Step to Treatment: Diagnosis

Our team has special expertise in diagnosing and treating brain tumors in children.

First, we’ll do tests to find the tumor:

  • Location
  • Type (including how likely it is to spread)
  • Grade (how aggressive the tumor cells are)

This helps us find the safest and most effective treatment plan for your child.

Treatment for Brain Tumors in Children 

Surgery Options for Your Child 

Most brain tumors in children need surgery to test it or remove it. A test called a biopsy can give important information about how to best treat a tumor. If it's safe, our pediatric neurosurgeons will remove the tumor. This removes the cancer. It can relieve pressure in the brain caused by the tumor.

A Surgical Alternative

In some cases, we can do Gamma Knife radiosurgery. This procedure shrinks the tumor without an operation.  

Learn more about Gamma Knife for children

Chemotherapy

We use chemo for many brain tumors in children, including high-grade, aggressive tumors.

Chemo is effective. But it can cause side effects, too. We have strategies in place to help your child cope with chemo side effects. 

Radiation

We may use high-energy radiation on the tumor. We use radiation on the entire brain and spinal cord for some tumors, like medullablastoma.

Targeted Therapy

Over time, we've learned more about the changes that help cancer cells grow. We’ve found medicines that target these changes. These medicines don’t play a large role in treating brain tumors in children. But they can sometimes slow down or shrink tumors.

Clinical Trials

We're always working to find better ways to treat brain tumors in children. Our pediatric oncology clinical trials give your child access to new treatments before they’re available to the public.

We're part of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the largest group for childhood cancer research. Children treated at COG centers have better outcomes, according to the American Cancer Society.

Supportive Care and Rehab

Brain tumors and treatments can cause many different types of problems. Our team includes all the specialists your child might need, including:

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists
  • Therapists for learning or emotional problems
  • Dietitians
  • Eye doctors