Gliomatosis cerebri is a highly aggressive, rare form of malignant astrocytic tumor. It most commonly presents as a diffusely infiltrating glial tumor of the cerebral cortex.
Children and adolescents with gliomatosis cerebri are treated through our Glioma Program, one of the largest and most experienced pediatric glioma programs in the world, and part of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Brain Tumor Center.
Our glioma specialists – a team of neuro-oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and radiation oncologists – focus solely on the care of children diagnosed with gliomas. The Glioma Program also offers families the chance to have their child's tumor molecularly profiled (as long as a biopsy can be taken), which may help identify opportunities for targeted treatment.
Gliomatosis cerebri symptoms may develop slowly and subtly or they may appear more abruptly. Each child may experience symptoms differently. Common symptoms include:
Gliomatosis cerebri symptoms may resemble those of other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Gliomatosis cerebri is most commonly diagnosed with diagnostic imaging. Since often the tumor appears to have no primary location and grows aggressively, biopsies are risky. However, a biopsy may be performed if a primary mass is identified, or if your child’s symptoms and other tests do not seem typical for the condition.
Diagnostic procedures for gliomatosis cerebri may include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
Gliomatosis cerebri treatment may include:
Unfortunately, surgery is not an option in the treatment of gliomatosis cerebri.
As with all pediatric cancers, care should be delivered at specialized centers where multidisciplinary teams can provide not only expert diagnostics and experienced medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, but also psychosocial support, neuro-psychological testing and specialized school plans, all delivered in a child- and family-sensitive and friendly environment.
How are side effects managed?
Your child may experience side effects from radiation. Radiation often produces inflammation, which can temporarily make symptoms and dysfunctions worse. If your child experiences inflammation, steroids may be prescribed.
Many specialized brain tumor treatment centers have now added experts in complementary or alternative medicine (CAM). These treatments, including acupuncture/acupressure, therapeutic touch, massage, herbs and dietary recommendations, can also help to control pain and side effects of therapy. Talk to your child's physician about whether CAM might be a viable option of treatment.
The prognosis for children with gliomatosis cerebri is generally poor, with a median survival of only 12-24 months. Complete surgical resection is not practical considering the widespread nature of these tumors and the extent of disease, standard chemotherapy has been unsuccessful, and while radiation therapy can stabilize or improve neurological function in some patients, the benefits are temporary and in most cases, tumors will begin to regrow over time.
Clinical trials and experimental therapies for patients with relapsed high-grade gliomas are available at specialized centers. Current trials include novel medications as well as new methods for the delivery of more traditional agents.
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