Childhood Cancer

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in

— Leonard Cohen

SURGERY HAS A CENTRAL ROLE in the treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors. At each new treatment stage, surgery is considered as an option. Surgery is used to take a sample of a tumor (called a biopsy), remove all or part of a tumor, place a shunt or endoscopic bypass to treat hydrocephalus, or insert a central venous catheter. Surgery is usually the first treatment considered after your child has been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor.

This chapter describes the importance of consulting a pediatric neurosurgeon to obtain an opinion about surgical options for your child’s tumor. Next, it explains the advances in technology that have improved the surgical treatment of children with brain or spinal cord tumors. Information is provided on the evaluation before surgery and what happens in the operating room. Finally, caring for your child after surgery is discussed.