Brain Tumor Management in Children

Pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors are complicated. However, close collaboration among our neurosurgeons and neuro-oncologists can make complex cases more manageable to treat — and can lead to more successful outcomes.

Each year, our internationally renowned specialists treat as many as a dozen tumor types of pediatric brain tumors that range from benign (non-cancerous) to aggressive forms of cancer. Unlike adult tumors, pediatric tumors can vary greatly and pose unique age-related management issues. That’s where our pediatric expertise and years of experience become invaluable in detecting, diagnosing, and treating children with even the most complex pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors.

As part of the Neuro-Oncology Tumor Board of Children's Hospital, our team meets regularly with specialists in other areas, including pediatric neuro-oncologyradiation oncologyhematology/oncology, and pediatric neuroimaging.

Pediatric patients may be eligible for brain tumor treatment through one of the many innovative clinical trials offered through the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program. Our program is a long-time member of the Children’s Oncology Group, and our research program is part of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, a select group of pediatric hospitals that is committed to identifying and evaluating novel treatments and furthering the progress of pediatric neuro-oncology care.

The Brain Tumor Management program offers:

  • A leading research program funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Cancer Institute.
  • Access to the latest brain tumor treatment strategies, technologies, and medications available at only a select number of pediatric centers around the country.
  • A comprehensive neuro-oncology tumor board comprising specialists who discuss each patient’s case, consider all treatment options, and develop a treatment plan that is then explained to parents so they can make an informed decision on their child’s care.
  • A collaborative working and information-sharing relationship with the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Research and Clinical Studies

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of the leading sites in the United States for pediatric clinical studies. Specifically, Children’s Neuro-Oncology Program has received significant grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Brain Tumor Society, and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. These funds are used to take research from the lab to clinical trials as quickly as possible — to benefit as many children as possible.

Here are some examples of current research initiatives:

  • Developing therapies to interrupt pathways in the brain that drive tumor growth
  • Creating a vaccine to suppress brain tumor growth
  • Modifying a type of virus to kill tumor cells while leaving other cells intact

Referral Requirements

Referrals are required from primary care physicians or other Children’s Hospital specialty services. Referrals for patients enrolled in managed care insurance plans also may require authorization from the insurance provider and primary care physician. All necessary referral and authorization forms must be received before the patient’s visit. For accurate provider numbers or more information, please call our office.