Pediatric Neuro-Oncology

Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Overview


The Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program is a multidisciplinary program that was developed at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in 2000 to better meet the needs of children with brain and spinal cord tumors.   This program is committed to improving the survival rate for these children through state-of-the-art, research-based care. Our medical team provides a high level of expertise and is composed of a variety of subspecialists. These experts – from pediatric oncology, pediatric neurosurgery, radiation oncology, pediatric neuroradiology, and neuropathology – work in collaboration to provide highly specialized treatment plans. Our team is supported by excellent professionals in psychology, social work, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, and rehabilitation services. We are part of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), an international childhood cancer research organization. This allows us to offer these children and adolescents access to the newest drug trials available. 

All patients are managed by the multidisciplinary team. The team meets monthly at a special tumor board to review all new patients and active patients who are undergoing therapy. Since 2000, over 175 children and adolescents have been treated in the program.


The mission of the program is as follows:

1.      Improve the survival rate for children and adolescents with tumors of the brain and spinal cord.
2.      Improve the quality of life for survivors of children brain and spinal cord tumors.
3.      Provide access to the most promising cancer treatments through access to clinical research trials.


To meet this mission, the program provides a multidisciplinary clinic for the care of long-term survivors. This clinic is held once a month and is attended by pediatric neuro-oncology. neurosurgery, radiation oncology, social work, and selected other team members.


Current clinical trials:

1.       Head Start III: Dose  Intensive Chemotherapy for Children Less Than Ten Years of Age Newly- Diagnosed with Malignant Brain Tumors: A Pilot Study of Two Alternative Intensive Induction Chemotherapy Regimens, Followed by Consolidation with Myeloablative Chemotherapy and Autologous Stem Cell Rescue
2.      ACNS0221: A Phase II Study of Conformal Radiotherapy in Patients with Low Grade Gliomas
3.      ACNS02B3: A Children’s Oncology Group Protocol for Collecting and Banking Pediatric Brain  Tumor Research Specimens
4.      ACNS0331: A Study Evaluating Limited Target Volume Boost Irradiation and Reduced Dose Craniospinal Radiotherapy 1800 cGy and Chemotherapy in Children with Newly Diagnosed Standard Risk Medulloblastoma: A Phase III Double Randomized Trial
5.      ACNS0332: Efficacy of Carboplatin Administered Concomitantly with Radiation and Isotretinoin as a Pro-Apoptotic Agent in Other Than Average Risk Medulloblastoma/PNET Patients.
6.      Treatment of Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumors of the Central Nervous System with Surgery, Intensive Chemotherapy, and 3-D Conformal Radiation.

Penn State Hershey Pediatric Hematology/Oncology staff are available to provide phone consultations or to see children in our Neuro-Oncology Program located at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital
Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
P.O. Box 850, M.C. H085
Hershey, PA  17033

Phone:  717-531-6012  
Fax:  717-531-4789
Hours:  Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

We can also be reached after hours by calling the hospital operator at 717-531-8521 for more urgent needs.

If you wish to transfer a patient to our care, we ask that you fax all pertinent medical records and insurance information to our office.


The members of this program are as follows:
Pediatric Neuro-Oncology
            Melanie Comito, M.D., Director
            Amy Tubbs, R.N.
            Mark Dias, M.D.
            Mark Iantosca, M.D.
            Melanie Olson, PA-C
Radiation Oncology
            Heath Mackley, M.D.
            Charles Specht, M.D.
Pediatric Neuroradiology
            Arabinda Choudhary, M.D.