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Pediatric and young adult brain tumors

Ask the Expert Amar Gajjar

Together with the American Brain Tumor Association, Inspire hosted an Ask the Expert with Dr. Amar Gajjar, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital chair of the Pediatric Medicine Department, co-chair of Oncology and director of the Neuro-Oncology Division.

About Dr. Gajjar, in his own words:

“I earned my MD from Grant Medical College, J.J. Group of Hospitals, located in Bombay, India. At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I also serve as Co-Leader of the Neurobiology & Brain Tumor Program and serve as the Scott and Tracie Hamilton Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research.

“Part of my work involves examining what makes a normal brain cell turn into a tumor cell. This information will help find new therapies to treat high-risk tumors and safely reduce therapy in low-risk patients. I work with investigators in basic science laboratories to develop new chemotherapies for brain tumor treatments and my other research interests include neurocognitive rehabilitation strategies to help children maintain reading skills after diagnosis.”

Highlights from the discussion

Question from an Inspire member: “What types of long term support or survivorship programs are available for young patients, especially those who are aging out of pediatrics? Does care transfer over to a different care team?” 

Answer from Dr. Gajjar: “Please look up the American Brain Tumor Association website for survivor support programs. These programs vary depending on the region of the country the patient lives. The current pediatric care team should also be able to guide you.”

Question from an Inspire member: “Hello, my 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with a 6mm tumor L Temporal Lobe. They are telling us it is likely a low grade glioma, and her MRI indicated ganglioglioma. For now, they are having us do a follow up MRI in 3 months. she is doing / feeling well, thankfully. However, my fear is what if this is not what they “think” it is. they are saying if there is any growth at 3 months, they would consider biopsy / resection. The neuro onc also mentioned if it did need to be removed, that it is in an “easy access” area. My question is, do we wait the 3 months, or go for second opinion at this point to try confirm more about what the tumor actually is- and possibly have a biopsy / removal sooner rather than later?”

Answer from Dr. Gajjar: “It’s okay to wait for 3 months and see if there is any growth. During surgery, it can be difficult to differentiate very small lesions from a normal brain, so even if access is easy, locating the tumor may be difficult.”

View the full discussion on Inspire.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

– Malala Yousafzai