Brain Tumors

We know how frightening a brain tumor diagnosis is for parents, and we understand the importance of having specialists you can trust with your child’s care. Parents should know that cure rates for children are generally high, and the majority of our patients survive cancer.

Why Choose Mary Bridge for Pediatric Brain Tumor Treatment?

At Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center, you will find:

  • Advanced brain tumor care: Our pediatric neurosurgeon understands the unique needs of treating brain tumors in children. We use the most advanced radiation equipment available to minimize side effects on your child.
  • Clinical Trials: As part of the Children’s Oncology Group, we use the same care procedures used in other major medical centers. We also offer investigative treatments only available through clinical trials.
  • Convenient location: We provide expert care close to home for childhood brain tumors, helping you keep life as normal as possible for your family.

Comprehensive brain tumor support

We provide comprehensive support to enhance brain tumor treatment and ensure the best outcome possible. Our services include:

  • Child life professionals who explain procedures and help your child cope with treatment
  • Sedation services team to provide anesthesia as necessary for tests and procedures
  • Neuropsychology specialists to assess children after brain surgery and minimize risk of learning problems
  • Dietitians who ensure your child gets the proper nutrients to support treatment and recovery
  • Pediatric rehabilitation specialists to help children regain function after brain surgery
  • Nurse navigators to guide you through treatment and answer any questions you may have
  • Long-term follow-up care personalized to your child, including imaging and blood tests

Learn more about our  child and family support services.

Types of Pediatric Brain Tumors

Tumors occur when cells grow and multiply out of control. While benign (noncancerous) tumors may stay contained in one location, malignant (cancerous) tumors are more aggressive and can spread to other areas within the brain.

We treat dozens of types of brain tumors, including:

  • Astrocytoma: This type of brain tumor occurs in the cells that make up the supportive tissues of the brain. In children, most astrocytoma tumors are slow-growing and confined to a single location (localized).
  • Medulloblastoma: This fast-growing type of tumor is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. It occurs in the cerebellum, the lower back area of the brain responsible for muscle function.
  • Ependymoma: This tumor forms from cells that produce cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain and spinal column. There are several different types of ependymomas, and the part of the brain affected depends on tumor location. Increased head size can be an early symptom of ependymoma in babies.

Brain Tumor Symptoms

Symptoms of brain tumors in children can vary based on the tumor’s location, since different areas of the brain control different functions such as sight, balance and coordination.

Symptoms of brain tumors in children can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Changes in appetite or behavior, including irritability
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Coordination problems or unusual eye movements

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Physicians typically diagnose brain tumors using imaging studies including:

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): An MRI uses radio waves and powerful magnets to create detailed images of your child’s brain. During the MRI, your child will need to lie on a table that slides into a tunnel-shaped machine.
  • CT (computerized tomography) scan: This procedure uses X-rays and computers to create detailed cross-section or slice images of the brain. The procedure requires your child to lie on a table that slides through a large donut-shaped machine.

Our sedation services team is on hand to provide anesthesia so your child is comfortable. Child life specialists explain procedures and tests in child-friendly language, helping distract, entertain and comfort them throughout the process. Learn more about what to expect during  diagnosis and imaging.

Brain Tumor Treatment at Mary Bridge

Our specialists create an individualized treatment plan for each child. Doctors across different specialties meet regularly to review your child’s care, working together to identify the most effective treatment. We provide comprehensive  child and family support services to make treatment as easy as possible on children, parents and siblings.

Treatment will depend on several factors that include tumor size and location, your child’s age and medical history. Brain tumor treatment in children typically involves some combination of:

  • Surgery: If possible, physicians will surgically remove a brain tumor. Mary Bridge has a pediatric neurosurgeon who understands the unique challenges of treating brain tumors in children. Learn more about  surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. Some chemotherapy is given orally, while other types require an intravenous (IV) infusion. Find out more about  chemotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation beams to destroy cancer cells. Our radiation oncologists use the most sophisticated and accurate equipment currently available to minimize side effects on your child. Learn more about  radiation therapy.

We partner with Seattle Children’s Hospital for patients needing bone marrow transplants. Also called a stem cell transplant, this procedure replaces defective blood-forming cells with normal ones.

Contact Us

To make an appointment, please call 253-403-3481.