Dedicated Physicians -- Pediatric oncologist Ira Dunkel is one of the members of the multidisciplinary brain tumor team.
If your child has been diagnosed with a brain tumor or spinal cord tumor, you’re probably facing many hard decisions. Where should you go for care? What’s your first step? At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we too are constantly thinking of those questions — and how we can be the answer to all of them. Each expert member of your child’s team is dedicated to giving him or her the best outcome and quality of life possible.
Memorial Sloan Kettering has the largest pediatric neuro-oncology program in the country, with eight neuro-oncologists and three neurosurgeons dedicated to caring for children with brain tumors. Our team oversees more than 3,400 visits each year, meeting over 200 new patients annually. At MSK, we not only offer the latest treatments via an unmatched portfolio of clinical trials for brain tumors, we also drive the scientific efforts behind them, putting us at the forefront of new and promising research. The Pediatric Brain Tumor Program is part of MSK’s Brain Tumor Center, where experts study the makeup of brain tumors and develop new treatments.
About Pediatric Brain Tumors
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 cancers 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.