Brain and Spinal Tumor Care

woman in scrubs and mask looking at imaging

Brain and Spinal Tumor Care

If your child has been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor, it can feel devastating. Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children and adolescents and are the leading cause of death for children with cancer around the world. Symptoms associated with these tumors can dramatically impact your child’s quality of life, and these conditions can be difficult to treat. Both the tumors and some of the lifesaving therapies used to treat them can interfere with a child’s development.

But new and promising techniques may help overcome these challenges and deliver effective treatments while greatly reducing their potential side effects and risks. Working with experts who can treat your child’s tumor and help manage their symptoms and minimize their discomfort can make all the difference in the world.

What Are Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors?

Brain and spinal cord tumors are masses of cells that grow out of control in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord. These tumors may be cancerous or noncancerous (benign), but either type can be harmful because of their location. They can affect how the brain and spinal cord function and impact a child’s development. Because the skull is a rigid structure around the brain, pressure from a growing tumor can affect brain function and cause headaches, seizures, vision problems, and cognitive and behavioral problems.

In addition, because of their location, there are unique challenges to treating these types of tumors: Some tumors cannot be operated on because of the potential risks, and some treatments can cause significant problems with long-term neurological development. Treatment is based on a number of factors, including the type of tumor, how quickly it spreads, tumor size, whether surgery is a safe option, and how the tumor is affecting brain function.

Care at Columbia

Our multispecialty pediatric brain tumor program brings together highly skilled experts from across Columbia to provide personalized care for your child. We will determine the best treatment options based on their specific tumor biology. Our team includes pediatric specialists from neurosurgery, neurology, neuroradiology, and radiation oncology.

Conditions We Treat

  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Embryonal tumor
    • Atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT)
    • Embryonal tumors with multilayered rosettes (ETMRs)
    • Medulloblastoma
    • Medulloepithelioma
    • Supratentorial primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET)
  • Germ cell tumor
  • Gliomas
    • Astrocytoma
    • Ependymoma
    • High-grade glioma
      • Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)
    • Low-grade glioma
      • Chiasmatic glioma
    • Mixed glioma
    • Oligodendroglioma
  • Meningioma

Treatments We Offer

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
    • Cellular therapy
    • Molecular drug therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Specialized strategies
    • Convection enhanced delivery (CED)
    • Focused ultrasound (FUS) with microbubbles
  • Surgery

Our Programs

Our specialists are at the forefront of today’s research. We work with experts from across Columbia to provide access to the latest technologies and treatments, even for the most difficult-to-treat tumors.

The Initiative for Drug Delivery Innovation (IDDI)

The Initiative for Drug Delivery Innovation (IDDI) was created to push the boundaries of innovative treatments for childhood brain tumors. The IDDI team has created a state-of-the-art clinic setting and supportive infrastructure to administer novel therapies for patient trials, including:

  • Convection enhanced delivery (CED)
  • Focused ultrasound (FUS) with microbubbles

Precision in Pediatric Sequencing (PIPseq) Program

The Precision in Pediatric Sequencing (PIPseq) program at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital is working to leverage the unique genetic signature of your child's tumor to develop targeted, personalized treatments. Our goal is to use this tumor-specific genetic information to tailor therapies and delivery methods for maximum effectiveness and minimal side effects.

Resources for Support

At Columbia, we understand that cancer doesn’t just impact every part of your child’s life—it affects your entire family. So we make sure you have access to programs and resources that provide the support you need.