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Brain Tumor Treatment FAQ

How do I initiate a referral from my child's present physician?

A referral can be initiated simply by letting your physician know you would like a second opinion from St. Jude. They can contact our 24-hour beeper service, or call 901-595-3596 during normal business hours, 8:30 am to 5 pm Central Standard Time.

Brain Tumor Treatment FAQ (continued)

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Can my child be accepted to St. Jude if he or she has already had surgery?

Yes. Prior surgery alone does not exclude your child from being considered for treatment at St. Jude. If your child has already undergone a biopsy or surgical resection, we would want to review the "histology" or tumor taken at the time of surgery to confirm the diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, we will discuss with you the specific therapy that St. Jude would recommend.

How long will my child have to stay at St. Jude?

Your length of stay is always dependent upon the type of treatment required for your child’s specific tumor. Your initial evaluation at St. Jude will be at least two weeks in most cases, and any additional time will be determined by the specific treatment plan designed for your child. Our nurse coordinator will be happy to discuss this matter with you on an individual basis.

Should I get a second opinion?

Getting a second opinion is always a good idea. It will provide you with the reassurance and direction you need in making a decision about therapy for your child. The best time to get a second opinion is before your child starts therapy. A second opinion will give you the information you need to make an informed and educated decision about your child’s treatment.

What are the survival rates for pediatric brain tumors?

The survival rates for each type of brain tumor vary tremendously. For an overview of the major types of tumors we treat at St. Jude and their survival rates, please see our section on Tumors Treated.

What makes St. Jude the best place for my child's treatment?

St. Jude is dedicated to the treatment of childhood cancer. Therefore our environment and staff has only one focus---the child. Please see Why St. Jude

What type of support network do you have for family members?

Treating the disease is only one facet of patient care at St. Jude. The institution has a wide range of specialists to help families cope with the challenges of battling a life-threatening pediatric illness. Social workers, psychologists and pastoral caregivers help patients and families deal with the emotional effects. Two Memphis City School teachers are on staff to help patients continue their studies while they are undergoing treatment. Additionally, you will receive a tremendous amount of support from other parents who are here and going through similar emotions.

What types of brain tumors are treated at St. Jude?

We treat many different types of brain tumors at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Although some of the most common tumors are listed in our "tumors treated" section, there are still many other kinds that are eligible for therapy at our hospital. Please contact us if your child’s tumor type is not listed and you are interested in pursuing treatment at St. Jude

Why should my child come to St. Jude at the beginning of his or her therapy?

Once therapy is started, regardless of where it is started, it is important that it be carried out to completion. If therapy is started and stopped randomly, it is impossible to know how or if tumor responded to any one type of treatment. Therefore, make sure you feel comfortable with the treatment that is recommended and that you have had all of your questions answered to your satisfaction before therapy begins.

Will St. Jude use experimental treatments on my child?

The term "experimental" usually refers to new chemotherapy drugs that are still in the first two phases of testing. These types of therapy, known as Phase I or Phase II drugs, are generally used when standard treatments have failed. Occasionally if a newer drug is very promising, we will evaluate it in a newly diagnosed tumor in what we call an "up front chemotherapy window." Standard therapies, generally using Phase III drugs, are typically recommended in patients with a newly diagnosed brain tumor. By incorporating newer components of therapy, the purpose of these studies is to determine whether the outcome, or results, will be better than studies completed in the past. A major component of our hospital is focused on the research of cancer; your child will be treated with state-of-the-art therapy. All our protocols (treatment plans) are approved by our Office of Human Subjects Protection and the results are closely monitored to protect your child.

Will all my child's treatment have to be given at St. Jude?

One of our main goals at St. Jude is to provide children with as much "normalcy" as possible. And obviously, one of the most familiar places to children is their own home. When possible, we will work with a local physician to deliver certain treatments at or closer to home. Again, this issue is something we can discuss with you before your child starts treatment.

Will my child have to have chemotherapy? Radiation therapy? Additional surgery?

Almost all patients will require a biopsy or surgical resection when they are originally diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor tissue obtained at the time of initial surgery is vitally important in determining what therapy will be recommended. In some cases, surgery alone is considered "curative" and no additional therapy is needed. With other types of tumors, both chemotherapy and radiation therapy will be required. We will be happy to discuss with you the types of therapy that St. Jude would recommend. Feel free to contact our 24-hour beeper number if your child has not undergone surgery or you are in the process of deciding what type of therapy is best for your child’s tumor.

Will my child's present physician still be involved in his or her treatment and care?

Absolutely. After your child has been referred to St. Jude and a treatment plan has been recommended, we will be in touch with your local physician to let him or her know what therapy is being offered. Once therapy has begun, we will continue to communicate with your local physician, and when possible, involve them in delivering some of your child’s treatments at home. After treatment is completed, we will rely heavily on him or her to monitor your child and to notify us of any problems or concerns.