What is the Brain Tumor Clinic?

At Seattle Children's, we have a clinic to provide care for children and adolescents who have tumors in their brain or spinal cord called our Brain Tumor Clinic.

This clinic involves professionals from many fields working together, called a multidisciplinary team. The team plans and provides all aspects of a child's care for brain or spinal tumors.

They include pediatric oncologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists, endocrinologists, neurologists, pathologists, psychologists, rehabilitative medicine physicians, genetic counselors, dietitians, social workers and nurse practitioners.

The main aspects of the clinic include:

  • Seeing patients at our weekly Brain Tumor Clinic for care by doctors and nurses who work as a team to help children and their families
  • Reviewing the cases of new patients as a team at our weekly Brain Tumor Board
  • Providing reviews of cases (consultations) for patients and doctors who are not at Children's, including those who are outside the Western Washington area
  • Performing leading-edge research projects in labs throughout the hospital and at UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to find new and better treatment options
  • Membership in the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium of the National Institutes of Health and the Children's Oncology Group (COG) to bring the most advanced chemotherapy options, the most sophisticated radiation treatments and the most effective surgical procedures to children with tumors that are hard to treat

Seeing patients

Our team provides direct care to our young patients at our weekly Brain Tumor Clinic. This is a time when all types of team members meet to see patients one-on-one.

They check your child's health and progress, give care, make any needed treatment changes and suggest ways to meet any other health needs your child may have. At most clinic visits, your child will not see all members of the team - only those that they need to see or that you ask to see that week.

Our patients range in age from newborns through teenagers. We work to attend to all of your child's medical, social, physical, emotional, pain and nutritional needs. We also focus on answering all parents' questions in a manner that is respectful and easy to understand.

Pooling our expertise

Once a week, the team comes together at our Brain Tumor Board meeting. All team members talk as a group about our new patients and, as needed, about our return patients.

We review each patient's health and treatment background (called the clinical history); look at any test results, such as  MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)  scans and pathology reports; discuss treatment options; and decide what treatment to recommend.

This way all our specialists can provide input on each patient, and team members can discuss each patient's case in detail to offer the safest and most effective treatment plan.


Our team also provides consultations for children who are not patients at our hospital and for their doctors. We often do this through a state-of-the-art telemedicine system installed at Children's and remote locations. Learn more about telemedicine .

If you or your child's doctor would like us to review your child's case, we can arrange to do so at our weekly Brain Tumor Board meeting. We will need your child's health records, test results and so forth, but your child does not have to come in to see our doctors.

This option works for families who do not live in our area. There is no charge. We will give the results of our discussion to your child's doctors.


Many of our patients, with different forms of cancer and tumors, take part in voluntary research studies. All the major improvements in brain tumor treatment, so far, have come out of research. Research holds the key to more effective and safer treatment options for children in the future, too.

Our efforts include research programs at Children's, UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center . Our research allows us to give our patients access to the very latest treatment options.

Our doctors work on research issues such as:

  • How to treat very young children with brain tumors more safely and effectively
  • How to get more precise images of brain tumors that can lead to improved treatments
  • How to safely use  radiosurgery  that kills tumor cells
  • How to treat spinal tumors more effectively

What's special about the Brain Tumor Clinic at Children's?

When we started our Brain Tumor Clinic more than 20 years ago, it was one of the first multidisciplinary clinics in the country to address the needs of children with brain and spinal tumors.

We are still the largest pediatric brain tumor center in the Northwest and one of the busiest in the United States.

Our clinic is a joint effort between Children's and our partners, UW Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center .

Many members of the team are known across the country as experts for their work in treating childhood brain tumors. Some lead national groups that study and treat these tumors.

  • Dr. J. Russell Geyer  is a nationally recognized leader of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium. This group includes just 10 centers in the country; Children's is one of them.
  • Dr. James M. Olson , also a member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG), is a major contributor of new ways to treat brain tumors
  • Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen  is past president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons

Who needs the Brain Tumor Clinic?

Our patients are children who have a tumor in their brain or spinal cord. We work with children whether or not the tumor can be cured with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

We work with children at all stages of illness, from the time their disease is diagnosed through all phases of treatment and follow-up care. This includes patients who may have a tumor return after treatment and those whose treatment and tumor affect their daily function or lifestyle.

We also help children and families manage long-term health issues linked to their brain or spinal cord tumor. These can include issues such as endocrine disorders, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, emotional issues and pain problems.

We believe it is vital to treat children with the latest and most effective therapies, with the most modern technologies and with the least amount of pain, side effects and discomfort.

We also help parents and families cope with the stress and anguish of having a child with a tumor.