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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, many different types of doctors, or specialists, will be directly involved in making the right therapy decision. This team approach will ensure that the most appropriate therapy decisions and recommendations are made for your child.

The Brain Tumor Team at St. Jude consists of doctors with very specialized training. Each of these doctors is available to your child under one roof — at St. Jude.

  • Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist
    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.

  • Pediatric Neurologist
    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 trained to be able to do a comprehensive neurological exam, interpret EEGs and provide pain management support.

  • Neuro-Radiologist
    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 interprets these scans and plays a vital role in helping the team determine the effectiveness of your child’s treatment.

  • Neuropathologist

    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. 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.
  • Pediatric Neuro-Psychologist
    Your child may develop short-term or long-term problems with learning and behavior as a result of the tumor, surgery and/or therapy. These doctors specialize in diagnosing these problems and in helping to find the appropriate intervention. 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 who may have some long-term learning difficulties.

  • Pediatric Neuro-Endocrinologist
    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 determine if hormonal therapy is needed. After completion of therapy, your child will see an endocrinologist at St. Jude on follow-up visits to watch for these types of problems.