Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (AT/RT) are very rare, aggressive tumors
of the central nervous system, occurring mostly in the cerebellum (the part of
the brain that controls movement and balance) or the brain stem (the part of
the brain that controls basic body functions).
Children with AT/RT are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's
through our Brain Tumor Center,
a world leader in treating this rare disease. Our brain tumor specialists have
extensive expertise in treating all types of neural tumors, including AT/RT. At
Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s, your child will:
Successfully treating your child’s brain tumor depends on where
the tumor is located and whether the disease has spread.
For many tumors, we use a system of classification called “staging” to
evaluate cancers. However, there is currently no standardized classification
system for atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors. An AT/RT may be:
Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors can cause a variety of symptoms in children depending on their
size and location. Keep in mind that the symptoms may resemble
other more common conditions or medical problems. It is important to consult
your child's physician if you have concerns.
AT/RT symptoms can come on quickly, in a matter of days or weeks, due to the
fast-growing nature of these tumors. AT/RT symptoms include:
As a parent, you undoubtedly want
to know what may have caused your child’s tumor. It’s important to remember
that nothing you could have done or avoided doing would have prevented the
tumor from developing.
In most cases, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors are associated
with a specific mutation (INI1) that can occur spontaneously or be inherited.
More than 90 percent of cases of AT/RT are associated with this mutation and
are not inherited. However, the cause of this abnormality is not known.
If this mutation (INI1) has been inherited, your child may be
at increased risk of developing other tumors.
The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate
and complete diagnosis. AT/RT is most commonly diagnosed from imaging studies
and biopsy. Your child's doctor will likely conduct tests including:
There may be other diagnostic tests that your doctor will discuss with
you depending on your child's individual situation. After we complete all
necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned
about your child's condition. Then we will be able to discuss the results and
outline the best possible treatment options.
physician will determine a specific course of treatment based on several
factors, including your child's age, overall health and medical history, the
type, location, and size of the tumor and the extent of the disease.
AT/RT treatments include:
Because AT/RT is so rare, these tumors are difficult to study. As a result, our
researchers collaborate with other institutions around the country to improve
our current understanding of this condition and offer new treatments to
children with AT/RT. Currently, researchers at Dana Farber/Boston Children’s
are working with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Broad
Institute of MIT and Harvard to learn more about the molecular characteristics
of atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors.
In addition, researchers in our Brain Tumor Center are collaborating with
physicians and researchers that treat other types of rhabdoid tumors in order
to study the effectiveness of current treatments and to establish new, more
standardized treatments for all types of rhabdoid tumors.
clinical trials, our researchers are testing new, targeted treatments that may
help improve the survival rate for AT/RT.
with a diagnosis of AT/RT will be treated as part of a brain tumor clinical trial.
In addition to launching our own clinical trials, we also offer trials
available through collaborative groups such as the Children's Oncology Group
(COG) and the Pacific Neuro-oncology group (PNOC). We are also the New England
Phase I Center of the Children's Oncology Group. If your child has progressive
or recurrent tumor, she may be eligible for a number of experimental therapies
available through these groups, or from one of our independent clinical
Participation in any clinical trial is
completely voluntary. We will take care to fully explain all elements of the
treatment plan prior to the start of the trial, and you may remove your child
from the medical study at any time.
AT/RT is a very difficult tumor to cure and, unfortunately, the outcomes
remain poor. In general, older children with AT/RT tend to do better than young
children. Through the studies done at Dana-Farber we have been able to improve
the cure rates from 10 percent to 50%.
treatment is completed we will continue to follow your child to monitor for
disease recurrence. After 2 years from
completion of therapy we also recommend that children treated for an AT/RT should
visit a survivorship clinic yearly to manage disease complications, screen for recurrence and manage late
treatment side effects. A typical follow-up visit is likely to include a
physical exam, laboratory testing and imaging scans.
Through our Stop & Shop
Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic, children are able
to meet with their neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, pediatric neuro-oncologist
and neurologists at the same follow-up visit. Our multidisciplinary approach
and depth of expertise will give your child on-site access to endocrinologists,
neuro-psychologists and alternative/complementary therapy specialists. School
liaison and psychosocial personnel from the pediatric brain tumor team are also
available. In addition, children
needing rehabilitation may meet with speech, physical, and occupational
therapists during and after their visit.