Cerebellar Pilocytic Astrocytoma in Children

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What's unique about our program is that we treat every patient differently. We understand the biology that drives tumors, so we are involved in research to develop treatments that are specific to the individual tumor and the individual child."

- Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, Director, Pediatric Medical Neuro-Oncology


Cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma is the most common type of low grade glioma, with a very high cure rate of 90 to 95 percent. Low grade gliomas are slow growing, less aggressive cancers of the brain or spine. Children cured of cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma enjoy a quality of life better than most children who’ve had cancer. A child’s balance, strength and coordination may be compromised if there was damage to the cerebellum, but a child’s fertility and life expectancy should not be affected.

  • The cure rate for cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma is 90 to 95 percent.
  • The most common treatment is complete surgical removal of the tumor.
  • If the tumor is completely surgically removed, it only reoccurs 5 to 10 percent of the time.
  • Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation, but usually are not necessary if the tumor is completely removed.
  • Cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma accounts for about 70 percent of low-grade gliomas.
  • Cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas are grade I tumors, and cannot turn into grade 2 astrocytoma (fibrillary astrocytoma).
    • Grade refers to the severity of the cancer, and how abnormal the cells are.
  • Coordination and balance are the most common and most noticeable symptomsof cerebellar astrocytomas.

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center approaches cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma

At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we utilize the expertise of both Boston Children's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to treat children and adolescents with all forms of cancer.

Specialists from Boston Children’s Hospital work closely with the experts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to ensure that every aspect of your child’s health is overseen before, during and after the treatment period. Our multidisciplinary approach is used at every step of care, including reading x-rays and MRI scans, interpreting the diagnosis and making clinical decisions.  We can provide your child with expert diagnosis, treatment and care—as well as the benefits of some of the most advanced clinical and scientific research in the world.

In our Low Grade Glioma Program we take a multidisciplinary approach to researching and treating children with cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma. Since many of our practicing physicians are also active researchers, your child will get the very best treatment available. Specialists in our program are involved in clinical research for personalized medicine drugs, which target specific parts of the tumor based on the person’s genes.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944