There are many types of treatments available for brain and spinal tumors. In order to determine the best treatment, your medical team will consider many factors including your child’s age, overall health, medical history; the type, location and size of the tumor; and the extent of surgery to remove the tumor. Also important in deciding the best treatment are the opinions and preferences of the patient and family.
As mentioned, surgery is usually the first step. Biopsy, partial resection or complete resection may be attempted based on location and risk to the patient. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while maintaining neurological function.
Depending on your child’s diagnosis, treatment of brain and spinal tumors may also include steroids and anti-seizure medications.
Steroids help reduce swelling around the tumor and therefore reduce symptoms. It can be used before and/or after the surgery depending on the child’s symptoms. Often patients are weaned off the steroids within a week’s time. Side effects from steroids include increased hunger/eating, irritability and mood swings, insomnia, general achiness and risk of infection.
Anti-seizure medications are often used to treat seizures caused by the tumor or prevent seizures from forming in the peri-operative period (the time surrounding your child’s surgery). Side effects of these medications vary widely and are dependent on the individual medication. Side effects will be continually monitored. Many patients are on anti-seizure medicines for a short period of time but some patients require anti-seizure mediations indefinitely due to the high risk of seizures given the location and or type of brain tumor.