Pediatric Brain Tumors

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2020 Dec;26(6):1553-1583. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000955.


Purpose of review: This article focuses on primary brain tumors in the pediatric population with an emphasis on molecular classifications and treatment strategies.

Recent findings: Pediatric brain tumors are a heterogeneous group of tumors that differ from adult brain cancers despite similar nomenclature. With the added complexity of the developing brain, treatment regimens are tailored to protect neurocognitive outcomes without sacrificing long-term survival. The 2016 World Health Organization's classification incorporated molecular characteristics to aid in defining the diagnosis and prognosis of these tumors. These changes have enabled providers to stratify patients, thus intensifying therapies in those with high-risk diseases and modifying treatments to reduce morbidity for children and to provide better outcomes. Recent published findings from clinical trials have been especially helpful for gliomas, embryonal tumors, and ependymomas. By using this new information, molecular factors that correlate with survival have been identified in patients. In addition, genetic findings in tumor tissue have also led to revelations in predisposing germline mutations.

Summary: New findings from clinical trials and molecular stratification will shape the next generation of therapies in hopes of improving overall outcome, identifying pathways in tumorigenesis, and aiding in genetic counseling for children and their families.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Child
  • Glioma*
  • Humans
  • Prognosis