A Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a tumor located in the pons (middle) of the brain stem. The brain stem is the bottom most portion of the brain, connecting the cerebrum with the spinal cord. The majority of brain stem tumors occur in the pons (middle brain stem) and are diffusely infiltrating, (they grow amidst the nerves), and therefore are not able to be surgically removed. Glioma is a general name for any tumor that arises from the supportive tissue called glia, which help keep the neurons, ("thinking cells") in place and functioning well. The brain stem contains all of the "wires" converging from the brain to the spinal cord as well as important structures involved in eye movements, face and throat muscle control and sensation.Source: The American Brain Tumor Association
The median overall survival of children diagnosed with DIPG is approximately 9 months. The 1 and 2 year survival rates are approximately 30% and less than 10%, respectively. These statistics make it one of the most devastating pediatric malignancies.Source: Treatment of newly diagnosed diffuse brain stem gliomas in children - David N. Korones.
The standard treatment for DIPG is 6 weeks of radiation which often dramatically improves symptoms. Unfortunately, problems usually recur after 6 to 9 months, and progress rapidly.Source: St Jude Childrens Research Hospital