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Brain Tumor Program

The Pediatric Brain Tumor Program provides advanced treatment for brain and spinal cord tumors in a supportive environment. Our goal is to cure whenever possible while providing all of our patients with the best possible care and quality of life.

Our program's diverse team of specialists provides coordinated care for each child we see. Doctors from pediatric neuro-oncology, pediatric neurosurgery, pediatric neurology, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, and pediatric radiation oncology work together on every case to make an accurate diagnosis and design an effective treatment plan.

Our team also includes psychologists, neuropsychologists, social workers, child life specialists and a school liaison. These specialists help families navigate the challenges of treatment while caring for their child's emotional and psychological health. We work closely with local and national organizations to ensure children and their families have the resources they need, including support groups.

Using advanced technologies, our neurologists and neurosurgeons are able to remove or destroy tumor tissue while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. For instance, the practice of MRI scanning during procedures helps our surgeons safely remove as much of the tumor as possible. We are also one of only a few centers in California to offer Gamma Knife or CyberKnife, tools for precisely delivering high doses of radiation therapy.

Improving brain tumor care through research is another part of our mission. UCSF is a leader in the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium, which is dedicated to developing innovative treatments for brain tumors, and we belong to several other national research alliances. This means our patients have unsurpassed access to promising experimental therapies and are among the first to benefit from new scientific findings.

Highlights of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program

We have expertise in leading-edge diagnostic methods, such as:

  • Stereotactic biopsies. This highly advanced procedure retrieves brain tissue samples for analysis while causing minimal side effects.
  • Gene sequencing. For all of our patients, we use a state-of-the-art test, the UCSF500 Cancer Gene Panel, to identify mutations in a tumor's DNA. The results can allow doctors to make more accurate diagnoses and determine the best treatment course for an individual patient.

We also provide innovative approaches to treating neurological tumors, including:

  • Metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG). Only a few hospitals in California offer MIBG, a drug that targets treatment-resistant neuroblastoma.
  • Convection-enhanced delivery. Researchers at UCSF helped pioneer this procedure, which uses a thin tube to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to a brain tumor, making the treatment more effective while reducing its side effects.
  • MEK inhibitors. We offer MEK inhibitors to treat neurofibromatosis type 1.

Our locations (2)

    Explore what we do

    Navigating brain tumor treatment with virtual reality

    Our team used cutting-edge VR technology to help a patient with neurofibromatosis type 1 and her family prepare for brain surgery.

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    • Best in Northern California for cancer care

    • One of the nation's best in neurology & neurosurgery

    • in NIH funding among U.S. neurology programs

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    For visitors

    Before you head to the hospital, check out our guidelines for visitors and caregivers.


    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

    Learn more

    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

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    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Learn more
    Decorative Caduceus

    A Study of a New Way to Treat Children and Young Adults With a Brain Tumor Called NGGCT

    Will be measured by the number of progressions or deaths within 2 years of enrollment for the cohort treated with whole ventricular + spinal canal irradiation (WVSCI). The final analysis will include an exact binomial confidence i...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Genetically Modified Cells (KIND T Cells) for the Treatment of HLA-A*0201-Positive Patients Wit...

    MTD is defined as the dose at which fewer than one-third of participants experience a dose limiting toxicity (DLT) for all participants who received at least one study intervention.


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    BGB-290 and Temozolomide in Treating Isocitrate Dehydrogenase (IDH)1/2-Mutant Grade I-IV Glioma...

    Events occurring on or after treatment on Day 1 will be classified using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) v5.0. Adverse events leading to treatment discontinuation will be listed.


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Combination Therapy for the Treatment of Diffuse Midline Gliomas

    Percentage of participants alive and free from progression at 6 months after the initiation of the combination of the backbone (i.e., ONC201) with a novel agent given in the maintenance phase of therapy. The primary analysis for P...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Immunotherapy Before and After Surgery for Treatment of Recurrent or Progressive High Grade Gli...

    Will assess the percentage change in cell cycle-related genetic signature post administration of neoadjuvant treatments when compared to archived recurrent pediatric HGG group. The number of participants with high cell cycle gene ...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Nivolumab and Tovorafenib for Treatment of Craniopharyngioma in Children and Young Adults

    Progression-free survival is defined as the time of documented response until disease progression as defined by Response assessment in neuro-oncology criteria (RANO) criteria. PFS will be reported by overall group at 12 months.


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Intra-Tumoral Injections of Natural Killer Cells for Recurrent Malignant Pediatric Brain Tumors

    Adverse events and clinically significant laboratory abnormalities (meeting grade 3, 4, or 5 criteria according to NCI CTCAE) will be summarized by maximum intensity and relationship to study drug(s). Grade 1 and 2 adverse events ...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    ONC206 for Treatment of Newly Diagnosed, Recurrent Diffuse Midline Gliomas, and Other Recurrent...

    A DLT is defined as a treatment-related adverse event (AE) or abnormal laboratory value that occurs in the first cycle of treatment (Cycle 1 for Arm A and D; Cycle 0 for Arm B and C), meets criteria for DLT as outlined below and i...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    Trametinib and Everolimus for Treatment of Pediatric and Young Adult Patients With Recurrent Gl...

    We will employ the Bayesian optimal interval (BOIN) design to find the MTD for both continuous and intermittent dosing schedules. The BOIN design is implemented in a simple way similar to the traditional 3+3 design, but is more fl...


    More about this study
    Decorative Caduceus

    A Study to See if Memantine Protects the Brain During Radiation Therapy Treatment for Primary C...

    We will estimate the difference in mean Cogstate composite Z score slopes (reflecting change in Cogstate composite Z scores from baseline to 12 months post baseline taking into account measurements at those time points as well as ...


    More about this study
    See all clinical trials

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.


    Beads of Courage

    We help children cope with cancer testing and treatment challenges by awarding colorful beads for each milestone they achieve. Find out about our program.


    Camp Okizu

    This overnight summer camp for children with cancer, siblings and families offers fun activities, education sessions and support in a beautiful setting.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    We help kids return to school after hospitalization by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Our research initiatives

    • Pediatric Brain Tumor Research

    • ucsf-brain-tumor-center-clinical-trials-2x

      UCSF Brain Tumor Center Clinical Trials

    • ucsf-childrens-cancer-program-clinical-trials-2x

      Clinical Trials at UCSF: Pediatric Cancer

    • Early-Phase Clinical Trials at UCSF: Pediatric Cancer

    Soothing the soul

    Our music therapy program nurtures patients with bedside serenades, rap workshops and more.

    Find out more