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Keywords:

  • CNS cancer;
  • education;
  • pediatric oncology

Abstract

Tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) are the most common solid malignancies in childhood and are the leading cause of cancer-related death in this age group. While an ongoing improvement in overall prognosis has been achieved in the last few decades, current therapeutic approaches still confer significant morbidities, especially for the very young. The traditional strategies of surgery, radiotherapy and conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy need to be further refined while newer approaches, including molecularly targeted agents, hold the promise of better responses, improved outcomes and reduced toxicities. This article discusses treatment standards, the focus of current clinical investigations and the future promise of novel, biologically based approaches for the most common pediatric CNS tumors: primitive neuroectodermal tumors including medulloblastomas, ependymomas and astrocytomas (both low-grade and high-grade glioma).