Brain Tumors and Spinal Cord Tumors in Children
Duke’s pediatric brain tumor center is dedicated to improving outcomes and curing children with brain tumors and spinal cord tumors. Children travel to us from around the world to participate in our clinical trials. Our pediatric program is part of the internationally recognized Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. We offer advanced therapies and comprehensive care for our patients with these tumors.
A Team Approach to Your Child’s Brain Tumor, Spinal Cord Tumor Treatment
Optimal care for your child’s brain or spinal cord tumor requires a large team of specialists.
- Our pediatric neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and neuro-oncologists work closely with you and your child to create a personalized treatment plan. Your child’s care team also includes oncology nurses, nurse practitioners, research nurses and staff, social workers, cancer geneticists, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
- We focus on keeping your child as comfortable as possible during treatment and work hard to minimize side effects and improve his or her overall quality of life. Our team includes experts in pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and therapies for coping with treatment and hospitalization.
- An advanced care nurse is your main point of contact throughout your child’s treatment and recovery. Your child’s advanced care nurse and neuro-oncologists are available to you 24/7.
- Our infusion center and clinic operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week. This reduces hospital admissions and allows us to accommodate your work and your child’s school schedules as much as possible.
Clinical Trials Are an Integral Part of Our Treatment Approach
Duke is a nationally recognized leader in immunotherapy and targeted agents and has been at the forefront of important treatment breakthroughs that have improved patient outcomes. Children travel to Duke from around the world to participate in our clinical trials.
- As part of a worldwide network of pediatric brain tumor centers, we offer the latest advances in testing, access to a broad range of clinical trials, and the most advanced treatments currently available.
- As a participant, your child may have access to innovative therapies only available at Duke, including our nationally recognized polio vaccine clinical trial. Our team interfaces with families and referring physicians to discuss treatments and explore options as a complimentary service. We accept new patients promptly and have a large support team to process referral information and streamline reviews of new patients by our pediatric neuro-oncologists.
Our Care for Your Child Continues After Treatment
This is a critical component of an excellent brain tumor program, as children with brain tumors may face unique challenges after they complete treatment.
- Your child’s follow-up care includes regular screenings, ongoing surveillance, and referrals to subspecialists as needed.
- We help your child transition back to school.
- Our programs help your child and family manage the immediate and long-term physical and emotional side-effects of treatment, including vocation support and mentoring.
PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMOR
Many pediatric brain tumors can be treated successfully with surgery alone, while others may require a combination of therapies. Your child’s team meets regularly to discuss treatment and progress and makes adjustments as needed.
As experts with years of experience caring for caring for children with brain tumors, our pediatric neurosurgeons balance the risk for surgical injury with the importance of removing the tumor when other treatments might not be as effective. We use advanced brain mapping and sophisticated imaging tools to identify the exact tumor location. This ensures accurate diagnosis and tumor staging and helps minimize the risks from surgery.
Chemotherapy, often used in conjunction with radiation and surgery, is used to treat some brain tumors. We provide standard and novel treatments, with the support of a comprehensive team of pharmacists, oncology nurses, and research support staff.
Duke is a leader in developing effective immune-based therapies for treating the most severe pediatric brain tumors. We offer a complete array of treatments designed to harness the power of the immune system, including cancer vaccines, immunotoxins, T cells, and anti-cancer viral therapy.
Radiation therapy uses energy beams to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. We take special care to protect your child’s developing, healthy brain by using advanced imaging and radiation delivery techniques.
Brain tumors and treatments can cause limitations in your child’s ability to live a healthy, active life. Our physical, occupational, and speech therapists specialize in caring for children with brain and spinal cord tumors and will work to help your child recover and reach his or her full potential.
PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMOR
Family and Support Services
Our dedicated pediatric neuro-oncology social worker funnels significant philanthropic and community resources to help our children and families during treatment and afterward. She works with our team to address the particular needs of each child, even long after treatment is complete.
Our care coordinators and social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs, including appointments for testing, treatment, and other medical visits. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care.
Doctor visits and hospitals can be overwhelming and sometimes scary for children. Our child life team can enhance the care your child receives. They explain procedures in ways your child can understand, offer encouragement and emotional support, and use fun activities to take your child’s mind off treatment.
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right either. Our Adolescent and Young Adult Program brings together experts in pediatric and adult cancer to customize medical care and emotional support unique to adolescents, helping them cope with cancer treatment and the ways it affects their academic and social activities. In addition, we provide specialized services to support adolescents as they transition to adult providers, pursue vocations, and live independently.
In addition to funding research to discover causes and cures for childhood brain tumors, the Institute provides financial, educational, and emotional support to children and families affected by brain tumors.