Overall survival for children with tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) has gradually improved, and 5-year survival now approaches 70%. However, for some tumors, such as diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas and high-grade gliomas, 5-year survival is less than 10% and little progress in improving this outcome has been made in the past 2-3 decades. The prognosis for children with recurrent tumors is also poor, and few treatment options are available. In addition, we face the challenge of treating patients whose brains are still developing. Although great strides have been made in initiating biological studies of these diseases, we have come to realize that pediatric CNS tumors differ significantly from those found in adults, affirming the need for additional in depth studies specifically in pediatric patients.
The mission of the Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Section is to identify and develop new agents and approaches for treating children with tumors of the CNS in an effort to improve overall survival and quality of life. Our research focuses on ways to overcome obstacles to effective treatment, such as the blood:brain barrier which can block effective drug delivery to the tumor, and drug resistance. Our patients are extensively evaluated and treated at the National Cancer Institute Clinical Center located on the NIH campus, generally in concert with the home (referring) physician. We work closely with physicians in Radiation Oncology (NCI) and neurosurgery (NINDS), who are also located on the NIH campus.