Pediatric glial tumors differ from adult gliomas in several ways that are of major therapeutic importance. First, the value of extensive tumor resection, which is controversial for malignant intrinsic brain tumors in adults, has been confirmed for a variety of childhood brain tumors, such as supratentorial high-grade and low-grade gliomas and infratentorial low-grade gliomas, ependymomas, and some medulloblastomas. Second, chemotherapy has been found to be effective in improving overall outcome in several childhood brain tumors, such as medulloblastoma and supratentorial high-grade glioma, but has yet to be proven to have a major benefit for adult tumors. In addition, chemotherapy is increasingly used to delay or avoid radiotherapy in young children with high-grade and incompletely resected low-grade tumors to avoid the morbidity of irradiation on the developing nervous system. Third, the prognosis for histologically similar tumors is often more favorable in children than adults. The present chapter will highlight the unique features of childhood glial tumors, discuss general principles in the clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment of these tumors, and then focus on the surgical management and outcome of the more common types of tumors.
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