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Children may develop brain tumors just like adults. The pediatric tumors, however, differ from the tumors in adults in respect of localisation and pathology. Also the post-operative treatment is different due to immaturity of the brain and the specific characteristics of the tumours in infancy.

The Medical Center - University of Freiburg is seat of a tumor reference center. The Center for Pediatrics consists of well-respected departments for neuropediatrics, oncology and haematology, so that optimal care for a child with a brain tumor can be ensured.

Symptoms of a brain tumor may occur acute in the form of an epilectic seizure, or neurological deficits, i.e. paralysis. Often, the tumor causes gradual symptoms, such as headache, vomiting (frequently fasting), increased fatigue, lack of concentration, or also behaviour changes. A loss of vision may occur progressively without being noticed by the child. In infants under 2 years, a general clinical deterioration occurs in most cases.

After a general clinical and neurological examination, an MRI scan or a CT scan of the skull will be arranged that verifies the tumor. This is the foundation for further treatment planning. In many cases, a medical treatment with cortisone to reduce the swelling of the brain is started first. Depending on localisation, circumference, and tumor type, the further course of action will be determined.

15-20 percent of all brain tumors occur in children. Tumors of the central nervous system are the second common tumor group in infancy. Most common tumors in infancy are pilocytic astrocytoma (which occurs mainly in the cerebellum), the glioma of the optic nerve, the glioma of the brainstem and spinal cord, the glioma of the cerebrum, embryonic tumours, especially medulloblastoma in the cerebellum, the ependymoma, germ cell tumors, as well as the craniopharyngioma.

Most tumors are operable and are removed with micro surgical technique in our department. The surgery is performed with the help of the newest techniques.

Some tumors can be treated by medicamentous or nonsurgical means, such as chemo therapy and/or radiation therapy. Those tumors have to be diagnosed by biopsy first. Here, a small tissue sample of the tumor is removed for analysis. In our department this can be accomplished by stereotactic neurosurgery: computer-controlled, the tissue sample is aimed for and retrieved through a small hole in the skull.

The most suitable method of treatment is determined by an interdisciplinary tumor conference for each individual patient. In this conference the Department of Neurosurgery including Stereotactic Neurosurgery, as well as radiotherapists, and chemotherapists of the Medical Center - University of Freiburg are present.

The diagnosis of a brain tumor causes an immense mental burden for the whole family. The fears of the little patients as well as of the parents and the siblings have to be taken care of within a psycho-social context. The hospitalisation, the surgery, the chemotherapy, and the radiotherapy cause not only a break down in daily routine, but also mean a permanent mental strain. The psychological and social care service of our Center for Pediatrics conforms to the individual needs of the respective families.

Detailed information on tumors

Detailed information on tumors are provided by the the website of the Tumour Center Ludwig Heilmeyer – CCC Freiburg. 

Dr. Mukesch Shah

Dr. Mukesch Shah, MD
Senior neurosurgeon

Children consultation hours

Dr. Florian Volz

Dr. Florian Volz, MD
Attending neurosurgeon