Specific treatment for a ganglioglioma will be determined by your child's physician based on:
- 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
- how your child's doctors expects the disease to progress
- your opinion or preference
Treatment may include (alone or in combination):
- surgery - the primary treatment is maximum surgical removal of the tumor. Tumors that are completely removed may not require further therapy other than serial MRIs to monitor for tumor re-growth.
- radiation therapy - for tumors that are incompletely removed and then increase in size or for tumors that recur, the recommended treatment is radiation therapy to the site of the tumor. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
How are side effects managed?
Children with gangligliomas may have side effects related to the tumor itself and its treatment. Symptoms at the time of diagnosis related to increased pressure within the brain, such as headache, vomiting and lethargy, and/or from compression of the nerves that control movement of the extremities, are often relieved by surgical debulking of the tumor. Dexamethasone, an oral steroid, is often used, especially in the post-operative period, to assist in controlling symptoms of increased pressure within the brain, as well as any additional tissue swelling that may occur post-operatively.
Radiation therapy may cause swelling related to tissue inflammation. This inflammation may lead to symptoms of headache or difficulty with coordination. These symptoms, if significant, may be treated with the oral medication dexamethasone.
Children with seizures are treated with anti-seizure medications to control or, in some cases, eliminate these symptoms.
What is the expected outcome after treatment for ganglioglioma?
Gangliogliomas are associated with a high rate of cure. Data suggest a 20-year survival rate of approximately 80 percent. Greater degree of surgical removal is associated with a higher rate of cure.
What about progressive or recurrent disease?
The recommended treatment for progressive/recurrent ganglioglioma is radiation therapy. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is one of nine institutes in the nation belonging to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium. The consortium is dedicated to the development of new and innovative treatments for children with progressive/recurrent brain tumors not responsive to standard therapies. Children with progressive/recurrent ganglioglioma would be eligible for a number of experimental therapies available through the consortium.