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About Childhood Ganglioglioma

  • Ganglioglioma is a rare brain tumor with both glial cells (responsible for providing the structural support of the central nervous system) and neuronal cells (the functioning component of the central nervous system).

    • Ganglioglioma is a low-grade glioma.
    • It occurs most commonly in the cerebrum (the part of the brain that controls motor, sensory and higher mental function). It may appear in any part of the brain and spinal cord.
    • In rare cases, ganglioglioma may transform into a higher grade, more malignant tumor.
    • Most of these tumors develop sporadically with no known cause. Certain genetic syndromes, including neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) and tuberous sclerosis, increase the risk of developing glial tumors, including ganglioglioma.

    At Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, our pediatric brain tumor specialists have extensive expertise in treating all types of gliomas, including ganglioglioma. Your child will receive care from a team of pediatric neuro-oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, and radiation oncologists through our Childhood Glioma Program, part of our comprehensive Brain Tumor Center.

    Symptoms of Childhood Ganglioglioma

    Gangliogliomas grow relatively slowly. A child may have been having symptoms for many months before diagnosis, or symptoms may appear more suddenly. Many children with gangliogliomas first present with seizures. Other symptoms include:

    • Increased pressure within the brain
    • Headache – generally upon awakening in the morning
    • Nausea and vomiting – often worse in the morning and improving throughout the day
    • Fatigue
    • Weakness on one side of the body

    Ganglioglioma symptoms may resemble those of other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

    How We Diagnose Childhood Ganglioglioma

    Your child’s doctor will order various diagnostic tests to form a complete and accurate diagnosis. Testing may include imaging studies, biopsy, and EEG.

    A team of specialists will review the results and outline the best treatment options for your child’s situation.

    How We Treat Childhood Ganglioglioma

    Your child’s medical team will personalize a treatment plan for your child. Treatment may include:

    • Surgery: Surgery may involve removing as much of the tumor as safely possible; surgery is often limited due to the deep, central placement of these tumors within the brain.
    • Chemotherapy: We may use chemotherapy, a drug treatment that aims to destroy or shrink cancer cells.
    • Radiation therapy: We may use precisely targeted treatment to control local growth of tumors.

    The recommended treatment for progressive or recurrent ganglioglioma is radiation therapy.

    Once treatment is complete, your child will receive continued care and support through our pediatric cancer survivorship programs, including the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic for pediatric brain tumor survivors. These services address health and social issues, ranging from motor function evaluation and physical therapy to return-to-school and learning programs.

    Long-term Outcomes for Children with Ganglioglioma

    Gangliogliomas are associated with a high survival rate. Cure rates improve when the tumor can be removed entirely with surgery.

    Childhood Ganglioglioma Treatment Team

    We bring together an experienced team of pediatric cancer and neurology experts to diagnose and treat children with ganglioglioma. See a complete list of the specialists in our Childhood Brain Tumor Center.