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Pediatric Cancer - Brain Cancer

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS), where all vital functions, including thought, speech, and strength of your child's body are controlled. 

Cancer begins when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and eventually form a mass, called a tumor. 

Marshfield Clinic has a team of specialists dedicated to the treatment of brain tumors and other childhood cancers that affect the central nervous system including specialists in neuro-oncology, neurosurgery, radiation oncology and pediatric oncology.​

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Treatments

The treatment of a brain tumor depends on many factors, including the size, location, type, and grade of the tumor, whether it is cancerous, whether it has spread to other parts of the CNS or body, and the child's age and overall health.

Surgery
Surgery is often the first treatment most commonly used for a brain tumor and is often the only treatment needed for a benign brain tumor.

Surgery is performed for the purposes of: biopsy, reducing the size of the tumor, removing the tumor completely or, for symptom management, if the cancer can not be cured. To remove the tumor, the surgeon will perform a procedure called a craniotomy.

There have been many advances in surgery for brain tumors, including the use of mapping and enhanced imaging devices to give surgeons more tools to plan and perform the surgery.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and is an important part of the treatment for patients with brain tumors. It can be curative, but is often used to prolong life.

  • Gamma Knife™- The Gamma Knife is not really a knife at all but a non-invasive treatment for patients with deep brain tumors and abnormal blood vessels in the brain. A dose of gamma radiation is directed by highly sophisticated computer technology to the tumor site, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. Gamma KnifeTM surgery involves a team of medical experts from neurosurgery, radiation oncology and radiation physics. Marshfield Clinic physicians have access to one of the only Gamma Knife units in the state through Marshfield Medical Center. This technology enables our physicians the ability to treat children with tumors who would not have been able to be treated with other technologies.​
  • IMRT - Intensity Modulation Radiation Therapy (IMRT). This allows the radiation oncology team to: 
    • Customize a patient's treatment to the size, shape and location of the tumor.
    • Minimize the amount of healthy tissue that is exposed to radiation.
    •  Treat tumors previously considered untreatable.
  • ​ ​Tomotherapy - a form of IRMT radiation therapy that can be used for many tumors, including those that are hard to reach. Tomotherapy targets tumors using built-in CT scanning to confirm the shape and position of the tumor before each treatment.
  • External-Beam Radiation - This traditional form of radiation therapy delivers radiation from outside the body. This course of treatment is less precise, but allows a wider area of tissue around the tumor to be treated.

​Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and, in the case of brain and CNS cancer, is primarily used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy.

Anti-angiogenesis
The formation of new blood vessels feeding tumors is called angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenesis drugs work by cutting off a tumor's blood supply so the tumor starves and is prevented from growing and/or spreading.

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