What is DIPG?
DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, is a type of brain tumor found in an area of the
brainstem known as the pons. The pons is responsible for important bodily functions, like
breathing, sleeping, bladder control, and balance.
DIPG cancer primarily affects children, with most diagnoses occurring between 5 and 7 years of
age. It makes up 10-15% of all brain tumors in children, with about 150-300 new diagnoses per
year in the United States. Unfortunately, fewer than 10% of children survive two years
Doctors and researchers do not know why certain children get DIPG. Most researchers believe
these brain tumors arise when normal developmental and maturational processes go awry.
Clinical signs of DIPG include:
● Odd eye movements
● Slurred speech
● Difficulty swallowing
● Trouble maintaining balance
● Drooping of one part of their child’s face
● Weakness in arms and legs
● Nausea and vomiting
● Double vision
● Difficulty in controlling eye and eyelid movement, and facial expression
Because of the aggressive nature of DIPG and the rate at which they grow, symptoms
usually get worse quickly.
Once the diagnosis of DIPG is suspected, anti-inflammatory steroids are usually started. The
steroids can improve symptoms quickly by decreasing the swelling associated with the tumor.
Unfortunately, the only current treatment that is routinely recommended for the treatment
of all children with DIPG is radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can be given either alone or
with chemotherapy and usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete.
Many chemotherapeutic drugs have been tried for DIPG, but results have been disappointing.
There are ongoing clinical trials for DIPG, which allow new drugs to be tested in this disease.
There are always risks when enrolling in clinical trials, but they are the best way to get your child
the most promising new medications and to make sure the pediatric oncology community learns
all it can about what therapies work best for DIPG.