Treating Tumors near the Brainstem in Kids

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Researchers from the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute have proposed that brain tumors next to the brainstem and pediatric sarcomas can be safely treated with the help of proton therapy.

The lead researcher Daniel J Indelicato, who is an associate professor at the UF Department of Radiation Oncology, presented the results at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology, describing the outcome of a high radiation dosage to the area about the brainstem of 313 children. It was the largest ever presented study of this kind. Over 90% of the children who were being treated since 2006 at the UF Proton Therapy Institute lived further than 2 years and only 2% suffered serious side effects that involved the brainstem.

According to the lead researcher, important evidence was provided by the study regarding the safe delivery of proton therapy to the most vulnerable children who have challenging tumors. Whenever there is a side effect in a child resulting from radiation, which has an impact on his brainstem, the consequences can be very life-threatening and serious. Across the discipline, irrespective of the mode of treatment, more information is needed by pediatric radiation oncologists in order to identify the patients who are at risk. This study has been successful at contributing important radiation dosage parameters to provide help in guiding the design of radiation treatment plans that are safe.

Most of the patients who are being treated at the UF Proton Therapy Institute suffer from tumors that dwell in this vital area near the foot of the skull and the spinal cord. It can be advantageous for these patients to get proton therapy, because it exposes the developing brain to less radiation. Also, the dosage to a child’s hormone, vision and hearing centers next to the tumor is limited in this therapy.

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