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Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Treatment Overview (PDQ®)

Patient Version

Treatment of Newly Diagnosed and Recurrent Childhood Brain Tumors

The brain is made of different kinds of cells. Childhood brain tumors are grouped and treated based on the type of cell the cancer formed in and where the tumor began growing in the CNS. Some types of tumors are divided into subtypes based on how the tumor looks under a microscope. See Table 1 for a list of tumor types and staging and treatment information for newly diagnosed and recurrent childhood brain tumors.

Table 1. Newly Diagnosed or Recurrent Tumor Type and Its Related PDQ Treatment Summary
Tumor TypeTumor SubtypeRelated PDQ Treatment Summary
Astrocytomas and Other Tumors of Glial Origin   
Low-Grade AstrocytomasDiffuse fibrillary astrocytomaSee Childhood Astrocytomas Treatment for information on low-grade astrocytomas.
Gemistocytic astrocytoma
Pilocytic astrocytoma
Pilomyxoid astrocytoma
Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma
Protoplasmic astrocytoma
Subependymal giant cell astrocytoma
High-Grade AstrocytomasAnaplastic astrocytomaSee Childhood Astrocytomas Treatment for information on high-grade astrocytomas.
Anaplastic oligoastrocytoma
Anaplastic oligodendroglioma
Giant cell glioblastoma
Gliomatosis cerebri
Brain Stem Glioma   
 Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomasSee Childhood Brain Stem Glioma Treatment.
Focal or low-grade brain stem gliomas
Central Nervous System Embryonal Tumors   
MedulloblastomaAnaplasticSee Childhood Central Nervous System Embryonal Tumors Treatment for information on medulloblastoma, central nervous system primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs), and tumors of the pineal region.
Large cell
Medulloblastoma with extensive nodularity
Central Nervous System Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors (PNETs)Central nervous system ganglioneuroblastoma
Central nervous system neuroblastoma
Tumors of the Pineal RegionPineoblastoma
Central Nervous System Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor See Childhood Central Nervous System Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor Treatment.
Central Nervous System Germ Cell Tumors   
TeratomasImmature teratomas
Mature teratomas
Teratomas with malignant transformation
Non-Germinomatous Germ Cell TumorsChoriocarcinoma
Embryonal carcinoma
Mixed germ cell tumors
Yolk sac tumor
Craniopharyngioma  See Childhood Craniopharyngioma Treatment.
Ependymoma Subependymoma (WHO Grade I)See Childhood Ependymoma Treatment.
Myxopapillary ependymoma (WHO Grade I)
Ependymoma (WHO Grade II)
Anaplastic ependymoma (WHO Grade III)
Tumors of the Choroid Plexus   
  • Updated: October 7, 2014