At MD Anderson, medulloblastoma treatment is carefully designed by a team of highly specialized experts. Our world-renowned neurosurgeons, neuropathologists, neuro-oncologists, neuroradiologists and radiation oncologists work together to develop a customized care plan centered on each patient’s specific treatment needs. They take a team approach to deliver the most advanced therapies with the fewest possible short- and long-term side effects, keeping a constant eye on the patient’s quality of life.
Each patient is also cared for by a specially trained staff of nurses, therapists and other care professionals. For pediatric patients, this team remains with your child from diagnosis through follow-up, providing consistency and peace of mind.
Leading Advancements in Treatment
Advanced technologies and less-invasive treatment options, such as proton therapy, BrainSuite (intraoperative MRI) and new targeted therapies provide the best hope for successful treatment with the least impact on physical and mental function.
We are also pioneering the use of immunotherapy, which unleashes the body's own immune system against disease, as a treatment for recurrent medulloblastoma. In addition, we conduct a wide range of clinical trails, including trials targeted therapies and minimally invasive procedures that deliver medications directly to the tumor.
Thanks to advanced treatments, more than two-thirds of children with medulloblastoma can be treated successfully. Many adults are also successfully treated.
However when the disease recurs, treatment can be challenging and have less chance of success. Teams with both the Children’s Cancer Hospital and Brain and Spine Center specialize in treating relapsed brain tumors, including medulloblastoma. This focused, multidisciplinary approach is critical achieving the best possible results.
Our medulloblastoma treatments
Medulloblastoma treatment is customized based on several factors, including, the patient’s age and health, the size and location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the nervous system or the body. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.
Medulloblastoma treatment almost always includes surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible as safely as possible to minimize damaging the surrounding brain tissue. Studies have shown that if doctors remove more of the tumor, the chances for successful treatment and improved survival are better.
In addition, surgery may be required to treat a condition called hydrocephalus. This occurs when the tumor blocks the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain and spine. In this situation, doctors may perform a procedure to divert the CSF.
Like all surgeries, brain tumor surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. This is especially true with brain tumors, because it is crucial to remove as much of the tumor as possible while leaving intact as much brain function as possible.
Neurosurgeons with the Children’s Cancer hospital and Brain and Spine center are among the most skilled and recognized in the world. They perform more surgeries on brain tumor patients than any hospital in the nation using the least-invasive and most-advanced techniques
Chemotherapy for medulloblastoma
After surgery, most children receive chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells. Children’s Cancer Hospital offers the most up-to-date and advanced chemotherapy options for pediatric brain tumors.
Some adults with medulloblastoma may receive chemotherapy in addition to radiotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery. This is an important decision, and it is critical to balance factors such as age, the amount of tumor left after surgery, and whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the nervous system or the body.
Radiation therapy for medulloblastoma
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells.
All adults with medulloblastoma receive radiation therapy to the brain and the spine (“craniospinal radiation”) after surgery to stop or slow the growth of any residual tumor that cannot be removed surgically and any tumor cells that may have spread into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Depending on their age and condition, some children receive radiation therapy, as well.
New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow MD Anderson doctors to target brain tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.
MD Anderson uses the most advanced radiation treatment methods, including:
- Proton therapy, which delivers high radiation doses directly to the brain tumor site, minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue. The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the largest and most advanced centers in the world. It’s the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is known. which can lessen exiting radiation dose to certain organs. Read more about proton therapy.
- Focused conformal radiation therapy, which is aimed directly at the tumor and the surrounding area.
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which shapes the radiation beam to the brain tumor and lessens exposure to the rest of the brain or organs
Targeted therapies for medulloblastoma
Targeted therapies are specially designed to treat each cancer’s specific genetic/molecular profile to help the body fight the disease. Many of the doctors who treat brain tumors at Children’s Cancer Hospital and the Brain and Spine Center are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials to treat brain tumors, including medulloblastoma, with novel targeted agents.
Our experts are collaborating with experts from around the world to better understand the biology and molecular subtypes of medulloblastoma, including relapsed tumors, to design personalized therapies.
MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering
promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.
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