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Conditions We Treat: Brain Tumors in Children

If your child needs brain tumor treatment, experience matters. Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeons see hundreds of children with brain tumors every year. When your child is affected by a brain tumor, the experts at Johns Hopkins ensure you get clear answers, a coordinated plan, advanced treatments informed by the latest research and top experts for the best possible outcome.

Pediatric Brain Tumor: Declan's Story

Five-year-old Declan had an MRI to monitor a growth hormone deficiency. Afterward, his parents got shocking news: The scan showed Declan had a large craniopharyngioma brain tumor. The family found themselves at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, where Declan had brain surgery the next day. Watch neurosurgeon Alan Cohen and the pediatric neurosurgical team discuss how they removed this tumor

 
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Pediatric Brain Tumors: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

Brain tumor surgeons in the O.R.
  • For most pediatric brain tumors, surgery is the treatment of choice. Our pediatric neurosurgeons are skilled in the range of operative procedures to address even the rarest and most challenging brain tumors.
  • Close coordination with experts in chemotherapy, radiation oncology, rehabilitation and other specialties ensures your child gets the best treatment plan possible.
  • Patients may have access to clinical trials conducted by leading researchers, including those studying immunotherapy for malignant brain tumors.
  • We welcome second opinions and offer treatment for children whose brain tumors were not completely removed in the past.
  • If surgery is recommended for your child’s brain tumor, you will find a dedicated and compassionate environment for healing at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, which offers comprehensive services for the entire family as well as the individual child. Families can stay with their children throughout treatment to preserve the family support system and enhance recovery.

Brain Tumors in Children: Treatments

Treatment options and long-term outcomes in pediatric patients vary depending on the type of brain tumor, the grade of the tumor and its location in the brain. Because tumors can grow in and around vital structures in the brain, careful evaluation is necessary to determine how to approach the tumor.

Your child's treatment plan may include:

Surgery

The purpose of surgery is to make a definitive diagnosis, remove as much tumor as possible and relieve intracranial pressure caused by the tumor. For low-grade or slow-growing tumors, surgery may be the only intervention necessary.

Neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins are skilled in using advanced imaging technologies such as functional MRI that help them better visualize the tumor before and during surgery. These technologies help surgeons remove more tumor while preserving more healthy tissue.

Computer-based image guidance (essentially a GPS system for the brain), intraoperative MRI and intraoperative ultrasound allow surgeons to operate with more precision. That means our neurosurgeons can now see and address hidden areas of tumor that may be otherwise hard to detect, and treat them before the patient leaves the operating room.

Also, our vast experience with minimally invasive neuroendoscopic techniques allows us to treat more tumors through a dime-sized opening rather than through an open craniotomy. (Our chief pediatric neurosurgeon leads the international surgery course on these techniques, instructing surgeons from all over the world.)

Endoscopic surgeries can involve less manipulation of the brain tissues, faster healing and a shorter hospital stay for your child. These approaches may be combined with other surgeries to address a tumor from more than one direction.

Additional (Adjunct) Therapy

Primary brain tumors in children can recur, even after surgery. The neurosurgical team may recommend radiation or chemotherapy to address invisible cancer cells that may be left behind. These nonsurgical approaches may also be used if a tumor is in a location that cannot be reached surgically without harming the child’s brain.

Radiation focuses beams of high-energy light on the tumor tissue and a small amount of surrounding tissue to address the invasiveness of a malignant brain tumor. Stereotactic radiation treatments, available for specific types of tumors, can reduce the tumor without surgery. Chemotherapy is used for aggressive, high-grade tumors.

Pediatric Brain Tumor Specialists

Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeons have decades of expertise in surgically managing pediatric brain tumors, even the most challenging kinds.

Dr. Alan R. CohenAlan R. Cohen, M.D., Director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center

Neurosurgeons

Edward Ahn, M.D.
Alan R. Cohen, M.D.
Mari Groves, M.D.
Eric M. Jackson, M.D.
Shenandoah Robinson, M.D.

Advanced Practitioners

Stephanie Berry, P.A.-C
Judy Gates, P.A.-C.
Kelly Hartnett, P.A.-C.
Heather Kerber, P.A.-C.

Meet Patients Treated for Pediatric Brain Tumor at Johns Hopkins

Skull Base Tumor: Sophia's Story

Diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant skull base tumor, Sophia, a Connecticut teenager, came to Johns Hopkins and had her tumor removed by neurosurgeon Gary Gallia, M.D. and otolaryngologist Masaru Ishii, M.D.

Seizures Lead to Pediatric Brain Surgery: Connor's Story

Four-year-old Connor said his arm kept falling asleep. Doctors found that he was having seizures caused by a benign brain tumor. Connor's family shares their experience with Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Edward Ahn, M.D., Ph.D..

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