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University of California San Francisco

Conditions We Treat

Brain & Spine Tumors – Children

Doctors usually use the term “brain tumors” rather than “brain cancers” to describe both malignant and non-malignant tumors of the brain.

This is because both malignant and non-malignant tumors of the brain can be disabling or life-threatening even when they don’t show a tendency to spread to other parts of the body.

Brain and spinal cord tumors in children often arise from different cell types and in different locations than those in adults and may require different treatment strategies.

Tumors can start in most types of tissue in the brain or spinal cord, but in children, they are somewhat more likely to start in the lower parts of the brain, such as the cerebellum and brainstem.

In children, types of tumors of the brain, spinal cord, or regions near the brain can include:

  • Gliomas
  • Astrocytomas
  • Oligodendrogliomas
  • Ependymomas
  • Brain stem gliomas
  • Medulloblastomas
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs)
  • Retinoblastomas
  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Mixed glial and neuronal tumors (Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma (PXA) and dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors, Ganglioglioma)
  • Choroid plexus tumors
  • Schwannomas
  • Meningiomas
  • Chordomas
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Neuroblastomas
  • Lymphomas
  • Pituitary and Pineal tumors
  • Metastases from other sites in the body


UCSF Radiation Oncology is part of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network; an alliance of 26 of the world’s leading cancer centers.

We are known, nationally and internationally, for our advanced and state-of-the art treatments for tumors of the brain and spinal cord in children.

We offer a full range of treatments for these tumors, individually customized for each patient, including:

  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS), including Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, and TrueBeam™ STx with Novalis Radiosurgery
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Three dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT)
  • Brachytherapy

Redefining Possible