Treatment options for recurrent low-grade glioma

If your child’s initial or first-line chemotherapy fails, their provider can try various options for treatment of recurrent low-grade glioma.

What is low-grade glioma?

Low-grade gliomas (LGGs) are the most common brain tumors in children. A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spinal cord, and low-grade means that the cancer grows at a slower rate. A low-grade glioma begins in the glial cells, which help the neurons in the brain to function.

Most childhood low-grade gliomas are caused by a genetic mutation in the MAP kinase pathway.

Treatment for low-grade glioma

Most low-grade gliomas are curable; the 10- to 20-year overall survival rate for children with low-grade glioma is approximately 90%, according to Mustafa Barbour, M.D., pediatric hematologist/oncologist with Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

“Most children with low-grade gliomas will undergo surgery.  The goal of surgery is to fully remove the tumor when possible, followed by observation,” said Dr. Barbour. “For children with tumors that can be removed only partially or just biopsied, surgery is usually followed by chemotherapy.”

Norton Children’s Cancer Institute

Our board-certified oncologists use the latest treatment options available to treat childhood low-grade glioma and other types of brain tumors.

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Recurrent low-grade glioma treatment

Treating low-grade gliomas in children can be challenging when the tumor is recurrent (comes back) after chemotherapy treatment, refractory (does not respond to treatment) or it is unresectable (unable to be removed via surgery).

If initial chemotherapy fails, a child’s provider may try various methods of treatment for recurrent low-grade glioma.

Treatment options for recurrent low-grade glioma may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
    • BRAF and MEK inhibitors
  • Radiation

For patients with low-grade gliomas that are partially removed or recurring, the cure rate is just below 50%.

“While around 50% of patients will have no recurrence of their tumors, the other half will be dealing with almost a chronic disease — so their tumor may be active, on-and-off, for the rest of their lives, and they will need multiple courses of treatment,” Dr. Barbour said.

Current Glioma Clinical Trials and Studies