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Neuro-oncology Treatment Program

The Neuro-oncology Treatment Program at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s is a team of highly dedicated and well-trained medical specialists. The team’s mission is to provide the most advanced and effective treatments for pediatric tumors of the brain and spine while offering family-centered care that focuses on the needs of the patient and family as a whole.

Right from the start, the Neuro-oncology Treatment Program team works closely with patients and their families to ensure they understand each stage of the treatment process. Treatment plans are discussed and coordinated at routine neuroscience tumor board meetings. These meetings are coordinated among all the neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, oncologists, neuropathologists and other medical staff. While carefully planning a patient’s treatment, the team use all resources available to minimize any possible side effects from the tumor and associated treatments, and regularly monitors patients for possible side effects. Patients undergo regular assessments to track their cancer’s response to therapy throughout the course of treatment. Once treatment is complete, the neuro-oncology team follows up with patients for several years, and the team’s neuropsychologist works with patients and their families to facilitate the transition back to school and regular day-to-day activities.

To make the treatment process a little less confusing and easier to navigate, the team has assembled a helpful education packet that our patients and their families find very helpful throughout treatment and recovery.

Click here to download our Neuro-oncology Education Packet

In addition to the education packet, the neuro-oncology team hosts an annual Neuro-oncology Family Education Day. The event provides families with the opportunities to learn about brain cancers and first-hand accounts of life after treatment from some of our pediatric cancer survivors. The event also provides families the opportunities to network with other families and learn about resources available to them both during and after treatment. For more information, please call (714) 289-4021.

What We Treat

The neuro-oncology team treats all pediatric tumors of the brain and spine including, but not limited to:

  • Astrocytoma
  • Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT)
  • Brain Stem Glioma
  • Choroid Plexus Tumors
  • CNS Lymphoma (Primary Malignant Lymphoma)
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Ganglioglioma
  • Germ Cell Tumor
  • Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
  • Medulloblastoma (MDL)
  • Mixed Glioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Optic Nerve Glioma
  • Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNT)

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Clinical Trials and Research

The experts at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s are dedicated to providing the very latest treatments and in engaging in the research furthering the advance of treatment both now and in the future.

Children’s cancers are very different than adult cancers and must be treated with specific pediatric cancer protocols. Our experience in exclusively treating children, teens and young adults makes us the experts in the evaluation and treatment of all forms of common childhood and adolescent cancers. We are dedicated to administering the very latest pediatric cancer treatment options. A majority of our protocols come from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a national organization funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Our relationship with the COG makes us the only medical center in the southwestern United States offering COG Phase I clinical trials.

Learn more about our ongoing research and the clinical trials available at the Cancer Institute.

We are specialists in treating pediatric brain and spine tumors.

The multidisciplinary Neuro-oncology Treatment Program at the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s is one of a handful of such teams in the region. Our unique approach allows us to offer our patients virtually all of the services they need under one roof—including access to our nurse practitioner, case coordinator, neuropsychologist, pediatric oncologist, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, radiation oncologists, social workers, dietitian and speech, occupational and physical therapists. This team approach allows our specialists to easily communicate with one another about patient needs and thus provide patients with a well-rounded treatment plan.

The Neuro-oncology Treatment Program is led by Violet Shen, M.D., who currently serves as clinical director of research oncology, and has been dedicated to the patients and research at CHOC Children’s for over 20 years. Dr. Shen earned her medical degree from National Taiwan University, College of Medicine and did her internship in pediatrics at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York. She went on to do her residency in pediatrics at Cornell Medical College-North Shore University Hospital and her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Cornell Medical College-New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She is a board-certified pediatrician and pediatric hematologist/oncologist. Dr. Shen is leading the way for the Cancer Institute as the principal investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) studies and phase I research, and the COG phase I consortium.

Learn more about our exceptional pediatric oncology-trained nurses, social workers, psychologists, nurse practitioners, child life specialists and case coordinators at the Cancer Institute.

Wei-Ping Violet Shen, MD

Dr. Violet Shen

Associate Spotlight: Julene Schenk, Oncology Case Coordinator

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For more than 20 years Julene Schenk has been caring for cancer patients at CHOC Children’s. She began her career as a bedside nurse and charge nurse in the hospital’s oncology division and became a case coordinator in 2008. As the neuro-oncology case coordinator, Julene works one-on-one with patients and their families to help them throughout their cancer treatments.

“I love working with my patients and their families,” Julene said. “I have the opportunity to teach them all about their treatment process and chemotherapy regimens. I also advocate for them and help to alleviate any stressful problems that may come up along the way.” Julene also works with the family’s insurance company to ensure that treatment and accompanying therapy are covered.

“Our team approach makes the care we provide exceptional,” Julene said. “We work very closely with one another and have a great rapport. The most important people on any patient’s treatment team are the family. Because a patient’s family is that child’s best expert, parents and caregivers are involved in every step of the treatment process.”

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UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine