• Medulloblastoma Treatment Program

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    Patients with medulloblastoma come to Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center from around the globe to get treated by brain tumor specialists and pediatric subspecialists with specific expertise in treating these rare but invasive tumors.

    Under a microscope, medulloblastomas appear similar to other brain tumors, such as pineoblastomas and primitive neuroectodermal tumors, but medulloblastomas behave differently and may require different treatment plans. The specialists in our Medulloblastoma Program have the expertise required to accurately diagnose these tumors and provide a personalized treatment plan tailored to the needs of each individual patient.

    How We Diagnose Medulloblastoma

    Our pediatric neuro-oncologists may order a number of different tests to determine the type and location of the tumor. In addition to a physical examination, medical history, and neurological exam, diagnostic imaging procedures for these tumors may include an MRI, PET and/or CT scan to provide detailed images of the brain and, following initial surgery, a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) and tissue sample analysis to confirm the diagnosis and degree of spread.

    How We Treat Medulloblastoma

    Treatments for medulloblastoma are based on several factors, including the child’s age, overall health, and medical history; type, location, and size of the tumor; the extent of disease; and the doctor’s expectations for how the tumor will behave.

    Neurosurgery is almost always used to remove the tumor and relieve the symptoms of hydrocephalus, a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid that causes increased pressure in the brain, a hallmark of these cancers. During surgery, an intra-operative MRI is used to help ensure that as much of the tumor is removed as safely as possible. An endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) or a ventriculo-peritoneal (VP) shunt may also be used to relieve pressure. Following surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may be used to kill off any remaining cancer cells. This may include the use of new biologic agents that target specific mutations in these tumors.

    Our Medulloblastoma Expertise

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children's patients who come for treatment at our Medulloblastoma Program have access to the broadest set of pediatric and oncologic expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of experts to meet the specific needs of our patients.

    At the core of the treatment team is a neuro-oncologist with expertise in treating medulloblastoma. Many of our brain tumor specialists are also active researchers, so our patients have access to clinical trials and the most advanced treatments.

    From there, we build a team that is best suited to carry out the patient’s treatment plan, including neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and radiologists. We round out the team with experts who help the child prepare for life during and after treatment, including psychiatrists and psychologists, child life specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and school specialists.

    Medulloblastoma Research & Clinical Trials

    Our clinical research program offers unique access to clinical trials in which children can receive the newest medulloblastoma treatments. We are consistently one of the most highly funded pediatric brain tumor centers in the United States. A major focus of our research program is the rapid translation of scientific discoveries to the bedside to benefit patients. Through their research, our physician-scientists found they could group medulloblastomas into specific subtypes, each with a unique fingerprint, which provides a first step to taking a personalized medicine approach to treating these tumors. Based on these results, specific molecularly targeted clinical trials for patients with two of these subgroups are now underway.

    Search for current medulloblastoma clinical trials.

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