Caring for your child: a multidisciplinary team approach
How our multidisciplinary team helps your child
What specialists are included on the team?
After your child has been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor, there are many different types of doctors, or specialists, who will be directly involved in making the right therapy decision for your child. This "team" approach will ensure that the very best and most appropriate therapy decisions and recommendations are made with your child’s best interests in mind.
The Brain Tumor Team at St. Jude is made up of doctors with very specialized training. Each of these doctors is made available to your child under one roof -- at St. Jude.
These doctors are pediatricians with specialized training in oncology (cancer treatment), specifically neuro-oncology (cancer of the brain or spine). They are trained to diagnose, treat and follow children with brain or spinal cord tumors. Often this type of doctor may be your child’s "primary" doctor at St. Jude. The pediatric oncologist will be the one to coordinate all of the therapy for your child and follow him or her through the completion of therapy and beyond.
Pediatric Radiation Oncologist
These doctors are specialists in the treatment of brain tumors with radiation therapy. They are trained to diagnose, treat and follow children with brain and spinal cord tumors. At St. Jude, the department of radiation oncology is fully equipped and uniquely dedicated to the treatment of children.
A neurologist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of symptoms, disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. This includes seizures, headaches and any neurological complications that may result from therapy. This team member is uniquely trained to be able to do a comprehensive neurological exam, interpret EEG’s and provide pain management support.
The "scans," or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, that are performed on your child from the time of diagnosis throughout therapy are crucial pieces of information in determining the appropriate treatment plan. The neuro-radiologist is dedicated to the interpretation of these scans and plays a vital role in helping the team determine the effectiveness of your child’s treatment.
A Neuropathologist is a pathologist who specializes in studying disease processes of the nervous system. By analyzing tissues and cells from tumors of the brain and spine under a microscope, a neuropathologist can determine which type of tumor the neurosurgeon has removed from a child. Establishing the diagnosis in this way is a vital role that helps the oncology team choose the most effective way to treat your child's tumor.
Your child may develop short-term or long-term problems with learning and behavior as a result of his or her tumor, surgery and/or therapy. These doctors specialize in diagnosing these problems and in helping to find the appropriate intervention for them. It is critical that children with brain tumors have "neuro-psychological" testing from diagnosis, throughout therapy and at follow-up visits to ensure that any problems are found and remedied as soon as possible. The results of these tests will be useful in developing individualized educational plans for children that may have some long-term learning difficulties.
The pituitary, thyroid and hypothalamus are glands in the brain that secrete hormones that control metabolism, growth and sexual development. As a result of a brain tumor or the therapy given to treat it, the release of these hormones can be altered. Endocrinologists closely monitor these hormones in brain tumor patients and will determine if supplemental hormonal therapy is needed. After completion of therapy, your child will be scheduled to see an endocrinologist at St. Jude on follow-up visits to watch for these types of problems.