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Brain Stem Glioma


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Glial cells are support cells that line your nerves in your brain and spinal cord. If a tumor develops in the glial cells in the brain stem (the lowest part of the brain that is connected to the spinal cord), it is called brain stem glioma.

There are two types of brain stem gliomas, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) that grows quickly and focal glioma that grows slowly. They can both cause symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Sleepiness
  • Trouble learning
  • Trouble walking or maintaining balance
  • Vision problems
  • Vomiting

At the Brain Tumor Initiative, we provide advanced treatment options through specialized pediatric neurosurgery and clinical trials. Our dedicated experts conduct research to help discover new treatments for aggressive brain tumors.


Neurological Exam
Your doctor may perform a neurological exam to test balance, vision, and other aspects of your child’s brain health. These tests can help determine if your child may have a brain tumor.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI is an imaging scan of the brain that uses no radiation but creates a highly detailed image of your child’s brain.

A neurosurgeon can remove cells from your brain metastases to study in a lab. Your surgeon may use a needle to remove cells or may remove cells during a surgery to remove the entire brain tumor.


A pediatric neurosurgeon will try to remove as much of the tumor as possible during surgery. Surgery is typically only used for focal glioma.

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy is used in children with DIPG glioma or in children with focal glioma when the entire tumor could not be removed. Radiation therapy uses precisely targeted beams of energy to destroy tumor cells.

Chemotherapy uses specialized drugs to destroy tumor cells. It may be used in both types of brain stem glioma.

Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapies disable or destroy certain proteins in the tumor cells, preventing it from growing. Some targeted therapies for brain stem glioma may be used if your child cannot undergo surgery.

Clinical Trials
At the Brain Tumor Initiative, we provide access to the latest experimental treatments through clinical trials. These treatments give your child additional treatment options if their tumor does not respond to other treatments.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Groundbreaking brain tumor treatment. Experts from Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and UHealth make up one of the largest and most complete teams for brain tumor treatment in the United States. Through multi-disciplinary cooperation, our team employs innovative procedures like awake craniotomies, Gamma Knife® radiosurgery, and many other techniques. We use the least invasive neurosurgical techniques on both adults and children, which reduces recovery time and makes a significant difference in your quality of life.

Dedicated brain tumor experts. Your care team consists of specialized physicians and researchers who are committed to brain tumor care. Your team may include neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, neuropathologists, and other physicians who focus solely on treating brain tumors. Their years of experience and expertise help you find the right treatment for you.

Innovative research that changes the future of brain tumor care. As the only academic medical center in the area, we are on the cutting edge of brain tumor treatment and research. As our patient, you also have access to the innovative research and the latest in clinical trials. Our ongoing translational and clinical research has spawned promising treatments like the heat shock protein vaccine and targeted therapies designed for your specific type of brain tumor.

International leaders in brain tumor care. We play a vital role in the community, thanks to our groundbreaking research and patient care for people in Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We’re turning Miami into the healthcare capital of the Americas. We’re creating one of the premier brain tumor centers in the country.

Surgical expertise. We perform thousands of brain tumor surgeries every year and care for more brain tumors than any other health center in Florida. Our skilled neurosurgeons are consistently pioneering new treatments. From minimally invasive spine surgeries to awake craniotomies, we offer unique surgeries you cannot find anywhere else in the region.

Concierge service. Our patients do not have to figure it all out alone. You are assigned a concierge coordinator who is there for you and your family during your care. They connect you with other providers you may need, walk you through the surgery process, and can answer any questions you or your family may have.

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