What to expect when your child needs brain tumor treatment
When your child comes to St. Jude for brain tumor treatment, he or she will have a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and support staff who are specially trained to treat children with brain tumors.
Your child's care team starts with neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists who have dedicated their careers to finding cures and providing treatment for children with brain tumors.
Our brain tumor physicians also work closely with support staff in:
- rehabilitation medicine
- clinical nutrition
- child life
- social work
These team members are trained to care for children with brain tumors and to help meet their special needs.
Your local doctor, your St. Jude doctor and your child
Close contact with your child’s private physician is important to us and critical for your child’s safety. Your child’s doctor can call us at any time to speak to your child’s St. Jude attending physician.
Learn more about how St. Jude doctors coordinate with referring physicians:
The brain tumor team and your follow-up care at home
Most children at St. Jude are treated as outpatients. This means they do not spend the night at the hospital. They only have to be at St. Jude for tests, check-ups and treatments. This practice reflects the St. Jude approach to patient care. We want patients to spend as much time as possible just being kids and teens, not confined to hospital rooms.
After your child completes initial treatment, your care team typically will manage your child’s care in close collaboration with your child’s private physician.
St. Jude has experts available at all times to consult with your doctor. St. Jude experts include specialists in:
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Genetic diseases
- Infectious diseases
These experts can help with issues and questions you and your doctor may have, including:
- possible side effects of therapy,
- signs of recurring disease, and
- questions related to patient management for those on St. Jude clinical trials.
Survivorship and long-term care
Even after your child has finished cancer treatment at St. Jude, we are still here for you. We provide follow-up care for years after your child's cancer treatment is done. We also help you learn about special health needs that your child may have because of past cancer or treatment.
Our goal is to help all childhood cancer survivors live long and happy lives. This starts with healthy bodies and minds.
Before your child has surgery
If your child has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor, more than likely your doctor, or neurosurgeon, is recommending some type of surgical procedure in order to make a "tissue diagnosis." Depending upon the location of the tumor, a biopsy or some type of resection will be done. It is important to get a piece of the tumor so that it can be carefully looked at by a pathologist and given a specific name. The name given to the tumor will indicate how it should be treated.
After your child has surgery
If your child has already undergone some type of surgical procedure at this point, it is likely you have been given the specific name of this tumor. The name given to the tumor is extremely important because it determines what type of therapy will be most effective.
Your doctor may have told you the name of the tumor and given you recommendations for further therapy. You may have already been introduced to an "oncologist" or "radiation therapist" who has spent some time explaining what he or she feels is the most appropriate treatment for your child. In either case, you are now faced with making another difficult decision — what therapy is best for your child.
This decision can be very difficult and it often helps to get the professional recommendation of another pediatric center. Although there may be pressure placed on you to initiate therapy as soon as possible, it is important to remember that this option is available. It is not a good idea to delay therapy for an extended period of time, but waiting a few extra days for a second opinion can provide the reassurance you need that the very best treatment will be given to your child. Once therapy is started, it is vital that you see it through to completion. Therefore, it is crucial that you gather information about treatment options before therapy is initiated.