For Children With the Most Common Malignant Brain Tumor, New Reason for Hope

September 10, 2014 10:09 PM

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For Children With the Most Common Malignant Brain Tumor, New Reason for Hope

I was working at home on a recent Saturday when the email arrived from an emergency department physician looking for advice. He had a patient whose CT scan showed a large mass at the base of the skull. The child's symptoms, combined with the appearance and location of the tumor, led the physician to suspect the mass was a malignant brain tumor called medulloblastoma. The child's family was devastated. The question was: What's next for the patient?

The answer to that question has changed dramatically since 1989, when I was a young physician finishing my training as a children's cancer specialist. Medulloblastoma was still considered to be a single disease. The patient's family would have been referred to a neurosurgeon, who would have removed ...

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