Cancer

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Description

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is a rare kind of brain tumor that originates in the brain stem, which connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord. It usually occurs in childhood and between the nerves of the brain stem that makes surgical treatment impossible. DIPG can cause troubles to face, throat muscles, eyes and breathing as well. It is a high grade tumor that spreads throughout the brain quickly and has a very poor chance of recovery.

Genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis 1 increase risk of DIPG. The symptoms of the cancer changes from patient of different age group and size and location of the tumor. These include

  • Not able to move one side of the face or body
  • Imbalance and trouble walking
  • Hearing and vision issues
  • Headache and vomiting
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Unusual energy

Diagnosing DIPG

DIPG can be diagnosed would include the following.

  • Physical exam: It involves checking general signs of health, disease or past history of illness and treatments.
  • Neurological exam: An exam that involves a series of questions to check the functionality of brain, nerve and spinal cord. It gives data on patient’s mental and physical condition.
  • MRI with gadolinium: A process using magnets and radio waves to see patient’s pictures inside of the brain where gadolinium is inserted into a vein that shows the cancer cells clearly.

Treatment of DIPG

The treatment of DIPG is determined by the doctor depending on several factors such as the age and physical condition of the child along with the size, type and location of the tumor.

Radiation therapy is used to destroy the cancer cells and shrink the tumor. Although results are positive in treating children with DIPG, but they are not long lasting.

Chemotherapy: Biologic and chemotherapy in combination with radiation therapy is also widely used to treat this rare disease in children. This process involves using anti-cancer drugs to be given to the patient through injection into a vein or pills to reduce the growth of tumor and kills the cancer cells.

Complications

Different side effect of DIPG treatment occurs from radiation, biopsy and chemotherapy, which can be eliminated if the procedures are performed in specialized centers with experienced neurosurgeons using technically advanced settings. Treatment complications are:

  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache

Post operative care

Even though the prognosis of DIPG is quite poor and the survival rate of this disease is very poor, a child treated in a highly advanced DIPG center with better after treatment option such as experimental clinical trials and supportive care has a better chance of survival.