Children with choroid plexus brain tumors are treated through the Brain Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric oncology program through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital that provides—in one specialized program—all the services of both a leading cancer center and a pediatric hospital. Our Brain Tumor Center is a world-renowned destination for children with malignant and non-malignant brain and spinal cord tumors.
Your child’s physician will determine a specific course of treatment for choroid plexus tumors based on several factors, including:
- your child’s age, overall health and medical history
- type, location and size of the tumor
- extent of the disease
- your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
There are a number of treatments we may recommend. Some of them help to treat the tumor while others are intended to address complications of the disease or side effects of the treatment.
Surgery for choroid plexus tumors
Between 85 and 100 percent of children with CPP are treated successfully with complete removal of the tumor through pediatric neurosurgery. For patients with CPC, it’s important to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but additional treatment, usually radiation and chemotherapy, may be needed. Chemotherapy before surgery may help shrink the tumor, making it easier to remove.
Chemotherapy for choroid plexus tumors
Chemotherapy is systemic treatment, meaning it is introduced to the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells. Different groups of chemotherapy drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors.
How is chemotherapy given?
Your child may receive chemotherapy:
- orally, as a pill to swallow
- intramuscularly (IM), as an injection into the muscle or fat tissue
- intravenously (IV), directly to the bloodstream
- intrathecally (IT), with a needle directly into the fluid surrounding the spine
Our doctors also may use precisely targeted and dosed radiation therapy to kill cancer cells left behind after your child’s surgery. This treatment is important to control the local growth of tumor.
Due to the potential side effects of radiation, including effects on learning and hormone function, it is best avoided if your child is young (especially under the age of 3 years).
How are side effects managed?
Side effects in the treatment of choroid plexus tumors can arise from surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Knowing what these side effects are can help you and your child prepare for, and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms.
- Procedures should be performed in specialized centers where experienced neurosurgeons, working in the most technologically advanced settings, can provide the most extensive resections (surgical removals) while preserving normal brain tissue.
- Radiation therapy often produces inflammation, which can temporarily exacerbate symptoms and dysfunction. To control this, steroids (anti-inflammatory medications) are sometimes necessary.
- Chemotherapy drugs cannot tell the difference between normal, healthy cells and cancer cells. Some of the chemotherapy agents are associated with fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and headache. These side effects can be effectively managed under most circumstances.
Our Pediatric Brain Tumor Center also has access to specialists who deliver complementary or alternative medicines. These treatments, which may help control pain and side effects of therapy, include the following.
- therapeutic touch
- dietary recommendations
Talk to your child’s physician about whether complementary or alternative medicine are a viable option.
What is the long-term outlook for a child with a choroid plexus tumor?
A child’s long-term health after treatment for a choroid plexus tumor varies significantly depending on the pathologic diagnosis, whether the tumor has spread and whether it could be completely removed through surgery. CPP are generally more successfully treated than CPC. Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you and your family, including clinical trials and supportive care.
Today, the majority of children and adolescents diagnosed with pediatric brain tumors will survive into adulthood. However, many will face physical, psychological, social and intellectual challenges related to their treatment and will require ongoing assessment and specialized care.
What about progressive or recurrent disease?
There are many standard and experimental treatment options for children with progressive or recurrent choroid plexus tumors.
Resources and support
There are also a number of patient and family support services at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to help you and your family through this difficult time.
When appropriate, our Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) offers supportive treatments intended to optimize the quality of life and promote healing and comfort for children with life-threatening illness. PACT also can provide psychosocial support and help arrange end-of-life care when necessary.
To address the needs of this growing community of brain tumor survivors, Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center provides pediatric brain tumor survivorship support and care through the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic.
More than 1,000 pediatric brain tumor survivors of all ages are followed by the Outcomes Clinic, a multidisciplinary program designed to address long-term health and social issues for families and survivors of childhood brain tumors. Some of the post-treatment services provided by the Outcomes Clinic include:
- MRI scans to monitor for tumor recurrences
- intellectual function evaluation
- endocrine evaluation and treatment
- neurologic assessment
- psychosocial care
- hearing, vision monitoring
- ovarian dysfunction evaluation and treatment
- motor function evaluation and physical therapy
- complementary medicine
As a result of treatment, children may experience changes in intellectual and motor function. Among several programs addressing these needs are the School Liaison and Back to School programs, which provide individualized services to ease children's return to school and maximize their ability to learn.
In addition to providing thorough and compassionate care, our Outcomes Clinic specialists conduct innovative survivorship research and provide continuing education for staff, patients and families.