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Brain and spine tumors are the most common solid tumors found in children, but advancements in research and new surgical techniques have helped Atlantic Health System Children’s Health improve outcomes. Our Neuro-Oncology Program provides cutting-edge, personalized care in a centralized location, so that you and your child can meet with multiple specialists without having to travel to different offices.

Pediatric neurologist visits child with brain tumor

Diagnostic Services

Atlantic Health System Children’s Health’s Neuro-Oncology Program offers a variety of diagnostic services to detect pediatric brain and spine tumors in early stages when they are more curable.

Brain scans
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests help us identify abnormal brain tissue and the precise location of tumors.
Neuropsychological exam
– Our neurologists perform a series of tests to assess nervous system function and physical and mental alertness.
Biopsy
– We surgically remove a sample of brain tissue and analyze it to determine the type and grade of tumor. This is the most accurate method of diagnosing brain tumors.
Genetic testing
– Research shows that genes may play a role in the development of brain tumors. Genetic testing can help determine if your child has an inherited risk.

Pediatric Brain and Spine Tumor Treatment

Effectively treating pediatric brain and spine tumors often requires a combination of neurosurgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Neurosurgery

Pediatric neurosurgeons at Atlantic Health System Children’s Health’s Neuro-Oncology Program take several approaches to removing brain tumors, depending upon their type and grade. If removing the entire tumor will cause damage to the surrounding area, we will perform a debulking procedure, which only removes a portion of affected brain tissue. Conversely, when there is minimal risk of injury, we will remove the whole tumor. This is known as gross total resection. Our pediatric neurosurgeons also can treat tumors at the base of the skull or the top of the spine with a minimally invasive technique called endonasal endoscopy. During this surgery, we use the nose and sinuses as a point of entry instead of opening the skull.

Supplemental Therapies

Radiation therapy
– Shrinks and destroys tumors with localized, painless radiation
Stereotactic radiosurgery
– Treats tumors in difficult to reach areas with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue
Chemotherapy
– Treats brain and spine tumors with anti-cancer medication injected directly into the spinal canal
Physical rehabilitation
– Aids recovery after surgery, especially if a tumor or treatment has affected speech, hearing, movement or other aspects of daily living

Types of Tumors Treated

  • Medulloblastoma
  • Gliomas
  • Astrocytoma
  • Brainstem glioma
  • Optic glioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Pineal region tumors

Multidisciplinary Medical Team and Tumor Board

Due to their complexity, pediatric brain and spine tumors require the expertise of many different medical professionals. The team at Atlantic Health System Children’s Health includes a neuro-oncologist, neurosurgeons, hematologists and oncologists from the Valerie Fund Children's Center, neurologists, neurophysiologists, endocrinologists, neuropathologists and neuroradiologists. They are supported by social workers, psychologists, nurses, anesthesiologists, critical care intensivists, physical therapists, child life specialists and a physiatrist. Our specialists will communicate regularly your child’s primary care pediatrician to ensure long-term, coordinated follow up care and treatment.


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Researchers in the lab

Pediatric Brain and Spine Tumor Research

Atlantic Health System Children’s Health’s partners with the Children’s Oncology Group to give pediatric brain and spine tumor patients access to the latest clinical trials. Eligible candidates who participate often are the first to receive groundbreaking treatments before they are available to the public.