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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, commonly referred to as DIPG, is a rare tumor located on the brainstem that occurs almost exclusively in children. A pontine glioma occurs in a most delicate area of the brainstem (the "pons"), which controls many critical functions, including breathing and blood pressure. Its location, as well as the way it infiltrates normal brain tissue, makes it difficult to be treated. There are about 300-350 new cases of DIPG diagnosed each year in the United States, usually in children under 10 years of age. DIPG affect boys and girls equally.

DIPG is a kind of glioma, meaning that it originates from the glial (connective/supporting) cells of the brain. Gliomas of the brainstem, like DIPG, are uncommon in adults, but in children they are the leading cause of deaths from brain tumors. (In adults, the most common type of glioma is glioblastoma multiforme, or GBM, the brain tumor that in recent years took the lives of Senator Edward Kennedy and baseball star Gary Carter.) In the United States, there are about 400 new diagnoses a year of brainstem gliomas, most of them are DIPG. 

Pontine gliomas grow quickly, so symptoms will appear suddenly and progress rapidly. Radiation treatments can help alleviate those symptoms, but they are not a cure, sometimes they can make the symptoms worse causing the tumor to grow. The prognosis for DIPG remains poor, but there are promising new research and clinical trials hold the hope of improved outcomes for children diagnosed with DIPG (see Treatment). It is important to have your child evaluated as soon as possible by an expert in pediatric brain tumors, to ensure that the most advanced treatment options are available to you.

What Causes DIPG?
Scientists do not yet know what causes DIPG, and the cancer is so rare that it hasn’t received nearly enough research funding to find a cause, a cure, or even better treatment options.¬† Survival rates have not improved much over the last few decades due to this lack of new research.

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