Three Main Mainstream Interventions

In the 1960s, the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) was formed, and since then, a number of clinical trials have been conducted to study and establish standard courses of treatments for childhood cancers. Currently, there are three primary interventions available:

  1. Surgery. Removal of the tumour through surgical intervention is the preferred course of treatment for benign brain tumours. In fact, complete resection is by far the best outcome for paediatric brain tumour patients. Even so, a recent study into childhood low-grade gliomas showed that of those having had their tumour totally removed, approximately 15% still suffered a relapse. Also, although death from planned brain surgery is extremely uncommon, it does come with a risk of bleeding and infection.

  2. Chemotherapy. This involves the use of powerful drugs that stop cancer cells from multiplying. Chemotherapy’s aim is to stabilise tumour growth so that doctors can defer radiotherapy until a more mature brain is less prone to damage. However, chemotherapy drugs themselves carry risks, due to their toxicity. They can also induce an allergic reaction, with a recent study showing that over half of the children suffered such a reaction while taking Carboplatin and Vincristine, the combination that is the standard protocol for children undergoing chemotherapy for benign tumours in the UK.

  3. Radiotherapy. This uses high doses of focused radiation to kill cancerous tissue. Doctors use radiotherapy when surgical removal is not possible. That might be for a myriad of factors, not least the location and type of tumour. The risk with radiotherapy is that it damages the brain surrounding the treatment area. Unfortunately, there isn’t data about any long-term danger to children who have undergone this therapy, so the risks are still relatively unknown. What’s certain is that cranial irradiation increases the risk of other cancers, such as meningeal leukaemia.

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