Nothing is more scary and terrible than finding out that the apple of your eye has something as serious as a brain tumor. More than 2% of the world’s children deal with this issue.
It is life-threatening and quite hard to deal with. You need to be aware of what will be included in your child’s treatment plan. You will also need to know that the healthcare team for your child is going to consist of a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric neuro-oncologist, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and an endocrinologist. All of them will play their collaborative and crucial roles in order to help make your child better. Here is what you should be expecting for your child’s treatment.
Surgery will most likely be an option in any kind of tumor. This is the most aggressive way to remove a tumor. Your child will go through a surgical biopsy first in order to remove as much of the tumor as is possible without damaging the brain. There will be some children who can not undergo surgery if the tumor is wrapped around too much of the brain. For example, a diffuse tumor is harder to remove than one huge lump. If your child has a tumor in the pineal, thalamic, or pituitary areas, surgery will not be an option. Most recover well from surgery. You will have to wait and see if the neurological function lost during surgery comes back or not.
Chemotherapy is the most common method of treating tumors. The main idea behind this is to get the tumor to shrink so that it is easier to remove it. In the field of neuro-oncology, a similar protocol is followed for chemotherapy as it is with other forms of cancer. For children who are under the age of 3 years, chemotherapy is better than radiation so that it does not damage the developing brain.
Chemotherapy along with radiation can be used once a week in children older than the age of 3. You might also be interested in some experimental procedures that might be able to help your child. One example is a type of chemotherapy that is given directly into the brain fluid using a reservoir inside the skull. This reservoir will be placed in the form of a shunt that will go into the ventricles.
All patients that will be undergoing chemotherapy will be using a steroid called Dexamethasone. This is an extremely strong form of steroid that is used to reduce the swelling inside the brain. This swelling is quite common after surgery. An initial dose will be given to your child and will be lowered down after a while. The doctor might also prescribe an acid blocker along with this steroid in order to prevent ulcers or even stomach irritation. This can cause your child to have a better appetite along with some other mild side effects. Anti-seizure medication is also quite common after surgery.
It is important to know what all will be used in order to treat your child’s tumor. Stay up to date on the latest information about cancer and its methods of treatment.