Brain and spinal cord tumors — known as central nervous system tumors (CNS) — are the most common type of solid tumor in children, constituting about 20 percent of all malignancies in patients under the age of 15. There are many different types of brain tumors and they can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). For all of the children we treat, and for all of the types of central nervous system tumors our team sees, our goal remains the same — to provide care that maximizes both the chances of cure and the quality of the child's life.
Where your child gets treated first is essential in determining long-term treatment success. Our pediatric neurosurgical team, which treats about 100 children with central nervous system (CNS) tumors each year, has a tremendous amount of experience with the often delicate task of removing a brain tumor in a child whose neurologic development is still in progress. Complete surgical removal of the tumor without secondary neurologic side effects is critical in improving the chance that your child can make a full recovery.
Children with brain and spinal cord tumors have different needs from other children with cancer. Some of the symptoms that initially brought children with CNS tumors to medical attention — seizures, visual changes, cognitive/behavioral changes, weakness of arms or legs, and hormonal changes, to name a few — require highly trained specialists to help manage these problems while treatment for the tumor is ongoing. It is necessary that a closely-knit interdisciplinary team of experienced medical professionals evaluate these children. Such a team exists at Memorial Sloan Kettering to care for children, teenagers, and young adults with brain and spinal cord tumors.