Due to the location of DIPG’s complete surgical removal in not a viable treatment option. Surgery in this part of the brain often cause severe neurological damage resulting in the loss of vital functions, like movement.
Chemotherapy is rarely affective; chemotherapy drugs are incapable of passing through the blood-brain barrier and reaching the tumor. The blood brain barrier evolved as a life saving defense. It’s intended purpose is to prevent harmful toxins and bacteria from entering one of our most vital organs. However, in this case it creates a major dilemma in treating Riley’s tumor.
Currently, radiation is the primary treatment for DIPG. Radiation uses X-rays to help shrink the tumor, reducing pressure on the brain. This treatment method helps to alleviate the major symptoms and even extend life. Unfortunately, DIPG does recur quickly, and repeated radiation treatments are not tolerated well by the body.