Surgery to relieve fluid buildup in the brain. A medulloblastoma may grow to
block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, which can cause a buildup of fluid that puts
pressure on the brain (hydrocephalus). Surgery to create a pathway for the fluid
to flow out of the brain (external ventricular drain or ventriculoperitoneal shunt) may be recommended.
Sometimes this procedure can be combined with surgery to remove the tumor.
Surgery to remove the medulloblastoma. A pediatric or adult brain surgeon (neurosurgeon) removes the tumor,
taking care not to harm nearby tissue. But sometimes it's not possible to remove the tumor entirely because
medulloblastoma forms near critical structures deep within the brain. All patients
with medulloblastoma should receive additional treatments after surgery to target any remaining cells.
Radiation therapy. A pediatric or adult radiation oncologist administers
radiation therapy to the brain and spinal cord using high-energy beams, such as
X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. Standard radiation therapy can be used,
but proton beam therapy available at a limited number of major health care
centers in the United States delivers higher targeted doses of radiation to
brain tumors, minimizing radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissue.
Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill tumor cells. Typically,
children and adults with medulloblastoma receive these drugs as an injection
into the vein (intravenous chemotherapy). Chemotherapy may be
recommended after surgery or radiation therapy, or in certain cases, at the
same time as radiation therapy. In some cases, high dose chemotherapy
followed by stem cell rescue (a stem cell transplant using the patient's own
stem cells) may be used.
Clinical trials. Clinical trials enroll eligible participants to study the
effectiveness of new treatments or to study new ways of using existing
treatments, such as different combinations or timing of radiation therapy and
chemotherapy. These studies provide a chance to try the latest treatment
options, though the risk of side effects may not be known. Talk with your doctor for advice.