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Wilmot Cancer Institute / Cancers We Treat / Brain & Spinal Cord Tumors

Precision Medicine for Brain and Spinal Tumors

Questions? Call us. If you have a suspected brain or spinal tumor, let us help 
ensure that you have the widest range of treatment options possible.

(585) 275-6179

Why it’s important to call us first.

If you have a suspected brain or spinal tumor, your first step is crucial.

Some of the most promising treatments are only available at the time of diagnosis. If you start another treatment plan, these advanced options may no longer be available.

Starting with UR Medicine provides access to the very latest, leading-edge clinical trials—giving you the widest possible range of treatment options, close to home.

How our care is different

The Brain and Spinal Tumor Program at UR Medicine provides the region’s most advanced approach to the treatment of brain and spinal tumors.

Multidisciplinary care. You will have a complete multidisciplinary team of physicians, including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and neuro-oncologists. These doctors work closely with one another—and with you—to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Leader in clinical trials. We offer the most neuro-oncology clinical trials in all of Upstate New York. Clinical trials ensure that you have the widest range of treatment options available.

State-of-the-art treatments and technology. As part of the region’s only academic medical center, we offer diagnostic tools and surgical procedures that are not available anywhere else in the area.

Overview of Brain and Spine Tumors

Some brain and spine tumors are cancer (malignant), and some of them are not cancer (benign).

  • Benign tumors rarely grow into nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body, but they can still require treatment because they can press on nearby parts of the brain, causing problems with the control of movement, speech, vision or other vital functions.
  • Like other forms of cancer, malignant tumors can spread through brain tissue and are likely to grow quickly.

Brain tumors can also be:

Primary: These are tumors that originate in the brain and stay in the brain.

Metastatic: These are tumors that start in other parts of the body — such as the lungs, breasts, colon and kidneys — and spread to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.

Risk Factors

The cause of most adult brain and spine tumors is unknown, but there are a few conditions that may increase the risk of some types of brain tumors:

  • Exposure to vinyl chloride, which is used to make plastics, may increase the risk of glioma.
  • Immune system disorders can increase the risk of developing lymphoma of the central nervous system (CNS lymphomas).
  • X-Ray or radiation exposure to the head.
  • Immune system disorders or use of drugs that suppress the immune system.
  • Certain genetic syndromes such as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) or 2 (NF2); von Hippel-Lindau disease; tuberous sclerosis; Li-Fraumeni syndrome; Turcot syndrome type 1 or 2; and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.


Because the causes of adult brain and spine tumors are not fully understood, there is no known way to protect against these tumors. Despite the common phenomenon, here is no known evidence that the use of cell phones is linked to brain tumors.

Brain and Spine Tumor Types

There are many different types of brain and spine tumors, and they include:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Brain metastases
  • Brain stem glioma
  • Chordoma
  • CNS lymphoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Gliomatosis cerebri
  • Low grade glioma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Pilocytic astrocytoma
  • Pineal tumor
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET)