Treating Pediatric Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

This information is useful for children
brain tumor
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our dedicated pediatric neurosurgery team, including pediatric neurologists, pediatric neurosurgeons, and pediatric nurse practitioners, has 25 years of experience caring for children of all ages.
  • We apply next generation DNA sequencing to every tumor to help personalize treatment for each patient.
  • Our doctors participate in cutting-edge research for targeted therapies that produce less side effects.

It can be scary to receive a brain tumor diagnosis for your child. Tumors can put pressure on certain parts of the brain and affect how it functions. After leukemia, malignant pediatric brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most-common form of childhood cancer. About 4,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, according to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States. At the same time, tumors can also be benign, or noncancerous. 

Over 60% of childhood brain tumors occur in the back compartment of the brain. The rest of the brain tumor occur in one of the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain or in the spinal cord. Boys are more likely than girls to develop such tumors, with more cases are seen in children under 7 years old. 

At Yale Medicine, our doctors make an effort to use treatments with the least amount of side effects for patients. "The treatments will make them live longer, but we want to make sure that they maintain a good quality of life," said Asher Marks, MD, director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology at Yale Medicine. 

The most common childhood tumors are low-grade gliomas and medulloblastomas.

A glioma grows from central nervous system cells called glial cells, while medulloblastomas form in the brain's cerebellum, the lowest part of the brain.