Terms like “benign” or “malignant” aren’t very useful when describing spinal cord or brain tumors. Given the tight confines of the skull around the brain or the vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord, even benign or slow-growing tumors can cause serious problems.
The Norton Children’s Brain Tumor Clinic brings all of your child’s specialists together in one convenient location. This multidisciplinary approach ensures a varied team of physicians can discuss the latest research and treatment options for your child.
The spinal cord and brain tumor team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists with deep experience treating these complex conditions.
Your family will be an important part of the decision-making process. The board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians at the Norton Children’s Brain Tumor Clinic care for your child and family in a comprehensive, convenient and caring atmosphere.
Children and teenagers experience cancer differently than adults. Because of this, your team at Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, will create a treatment plan most effective in destroying cancer cells.
Understanding Spinal Cord and Brain Tumors
Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children younger than age 15. They account for about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in this age group.
Most brain tumors tend not to metastasize — spread to other parts of the body. They do, however, tend to recur locally, or spread to other areas of the brain or spinal cord.
Brain and spinal cord tumors often cause symptoms by pressing on neighboring organs. Some of the symptoms in children with brain and spinal cord tumors include severe headaches that are worse in the morning, changes in personality and behavior, weakness or numbness of body parts, problems with walking or balancing, speech difficulties, vision changes and seizures of unknown causes.
Spinal Cord and Brain Tumor Diagnosis
A surgeon likely will remove a portion of the tumor for examination by a pathologist. This information will assist the diagnosis and help guide treatment.
After the specific diagnosis is established, a variety of other tests may be necessary to determine whether the tumor has spread to any other organs in the body. Further testing also will help to evaluate the function of other body systems prior to starting any subsequent therapy.
Spinal Cord and Brain Tumor Treatment
Norton Children’s Cancer Institute and Norton Neuroscience Institute work together to create a treatment plan specifically for your child.
Surgery – The surgeon will attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible, without damaging any nearby healthy tissue. The surgeon may use minimally invasive techniques, such as laser ablation, depending on the location of the tumor.
Radiation – At Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, we use precision-guided radiation beams that can map the shape of a spinal cord or brain tumor and deliver the right dosage to your child with less risk of damaging surrounding tissue.
Chemotherapy – We use the latest, most advanced medication to destroy or stop the growth of a spinal cord or brain tumor. It works by interfering with the ability of cancer cells to divide and duplicate themselves. In some cases, the oncologist will target chemotherapy directly at the spinal cord or brain tumor.
Chemotherapy can decrease the size of tumors for easier and safer removal by surgery, enhance other treatments, such as radiation therapy and control the tumor and enhance the patient’s quality of life.