Treatment for Children
Cancer treatment for children may include one or a combination of the following:
Removing the tumor is usually the first step in cancer treatment if possible. If all visible tumor is removed there is a better chance for long-term survival.
In children, staged surgeries are frequently used. In staged surgeries, instead of trying to remove the tumor all at once, neurosurgeons will take a small part out first. Then they shrink the tumor with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. After several months of treatment, the surgeon may go back in to remove the rest of the tumor.
Radiation treatment is used frequently to treat ependymoma. This process uses external beams of X-rays, gamma rays or protons aimed at the tumor to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The treatment is usually given over a period of several weeks. Delivery techniques target the tumor while protecting nearby healthy tissue.
Radiation treatment in children can have serious long-term effects on the brain and other organs. It is important to have treatment performed at a center that specializes in ependymoma. It is also important to discuss the potential side effects and complications with your child’s doctor. Click here to read more about several specific radiation options and more.
Chemotherapy is often administered through a special, long-lasting IV catheter called a central line. Chemotherapy may require frequent hospital stays. Although chemotherapy has many short-term side effects, it has fewer long-term side effects than radiation therapy.
Unlike tumors in adults, many children with brain or spine tumors are highly sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy and respond well to high doses of it. However, giving a child high-dose or intensive chemotherapy can cause serious damage to bone marrow. Special precautions are taken to minimize damage.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies
The CERN Foundation is not currently investigating the effects of alternative and complementary therapies on ependymoma. However, some patients research these options with the guidance of their physicians. Some options include massage or diet.
Your Child’s Medical Team
There are several members of your medical team that may be involved in your care.
Members of this neuro-oncology team typically include:
- Pediatric neuro-oncologist – a doctor who treats brain or spine cancer
- Pediatric neurologist – a doctor who deals with disorders of the nervous system
- Pediatric neurosurgeon – a doctor who operates on the brain or spine
- Radiation oncologist – a doctor who administers radiation therapy
- Neuropathologist – a doctor who studies diseases of the nervous system
- Neuro-ophthalmologist – a doctor who deals with diseases that manifest in the visual system
- Psychologists and social workers – offer emotional support and assists in managing the practical and financial impact of a tumor
- Nurses and nurse practitioners – oversee the management of patient care as recommended by doctor
- Child life specialist – help families cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability
We know you have lots of questions and we’re here to help provide answers. If you, or your medical team, have a specific question about ependymoma treatment, contact us.