Brain Stem Glioma
In order to make a brain stem glioma diagnosis, the doctor will perform a physical exam, ask about the child's personal and family medical history, and recommend additional tests and procedures.
Exams and tests that are used when diagnosing brain stem glioma may include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
After the brain stem glioma has been removed, tests will be done to find out if there is tumor remaining. The extent or spread of cancer is usually described in stages. However, for childhood brain stem glioma, the tumors are described by type. These types include:
- Diffuse intrinsic glioma, which is a tumor that has spread widely throughout the brain stem
- Focal or low-grade glioma, which is a tumor that is localized to one area of the brain stem
- Recurrent brain stem glioma, which is a tumor that has come back after it has been treated.
If childhood brain stem glioma recurs, it may do so many years after initial treatment. The tumor may come back in the brain or in other areas of the central nervous system.
Treatment options for brain stem glioma vary based on:
- The type of tumor
- The size and location of the tumor
- Whether the tumor has spread
- The person's age and general health.
In general, treatment options can include:
- Radiation therapy
- Cerebrospinal fluid diversion.
Your doctor can describe your child's brain stem glioma treatment choices and the expected results of each. Parents of children with this condition should work with their child's doctor to develop a treatment plan that meets their child's medical needs and the family's personal values. Choosing a treatment is a decision that ideally involves the affected person, the family, and the healthcare team.
(Click Brain Stem Glioma Treatment for more information.)