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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
At Boston Children's, we know how difficult a diagnosis of germ cell tumors can be, both for your child and for your whole family. That's why our physicians are focused on family-centered care: From your first visit, you'll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting all of your family's physical and psychosocial needs. We'll work with you to create a care plan that's best for your child.
Treatment may include the following, alone or in combination.
Usually first step of treatment is surgery: a pediatric neurosurgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible while preserving your child's neurological function. Tumor specimens are examined by neuropathologists.
Ventriculo-peritoneal shunt (VP shunt)
When a tumor causes blockage of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) flow, special tubing can be surgically implanted in the ventricles to drain excess CSF into the abdomen. This bypasses the tumor blockage and relieves symptoms of hydrocephalus, the build up of fluid inside the skull.
Precisely targeted and dosed radiation is used to kill cancer cells left behind after surgery. This treatment is important to control the local growth of tumor.
Chemotherapy is a drug that interferes with the cancer cell's ability to grow or reproduce. Chemotherapy before surgery may help shrink the tumor, making it possible to remove.
While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents don't differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. Being able to anticipate these side effects can help the care team, parents, and child prepare, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring, if possible.
Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy can be given:
Outcomes vary widely, depending on the precise type of germ cell tumor your child has. In general, germinomas are cured in greater than 85 percent of cases with combined treatment.
Children treated for a germ cell tumor in the brain should visit a survivorship clinic every year to:
A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:
Through the Stop and Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, children are able to meet with their neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, pediatric neuro-oncologist and neurologists at the same follow-up visit.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”