At Wilmot Cancer Institute, you will find the region’s most advanced treatments for brain and spine cancer. Each patient’s case is discussed in a multidisciplinary tumor board, where brain and spine surgeons, neuro-oncologists, neurologists, radiation oncologists and neuropathologists all meet together to outline a personalized plan of care.
Options for the treatment of brain and spine tumors are below. Treatment can include combinations of these options, which has been shown to increase effectiveness.
The Neuro-oncology division works as part of a multidisciplinary team of experts to deliver state of the art care for patients with brain and spinal tumors, brain metastases, neurologic complications of cancer and neurofibromatosis. The division often uses chemotherapy along with surgery and/or radiation to kill tumor cells or prevent them from growing. Because many anticancer drugs traditionally delivered though the bloodstream cannot reach the brain or spinal fluid, some chemotherapy for brain and spine tumors is delivered directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, brain or spinal canal. A dissolvable wafer containing an anticancer drug can also be placed on or near parts of a tumor that cannot be removed during surgery.
In addition to its use for diagnosing brain and spine tumors, neurosurgery can be used to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Procedures can include:
- Craniotomy, which is an open surgery providing direct access to the brain so a tumor can be removed.
- Transsphenoidal tumor resection, which is a minimally invasive surgery often used to remove tumors of the pituitary gland.
Radiation therapy uses photon energy generated by a linear accelerator to treat brain or spine tumors. Advanced techniques available for treating brain and spine tumors at Wilmot Cancer Institute include:
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), which delivers radiation in one dose using a 3-dimensional coordinate system to more accurately target the tumor and to protect healthy tissue.
- 3D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT), which uses sophisticated imaging and positioning systems to “conform” the radiation beam to the size and shape of a tumor for exceptional precision. Radiation beams are then precisely shaped and directed at the tumor from various angles. This process directs more radiation at the tumor while minimizing exposure of normal cells.
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), which is an advanced form of 3D conformal radiation therapy that the intensity of individual radiation beams to vary. IMRT delivers more intense radiation to cancer cells while providing greater protection to normal cells.
The radiation oncology division plays a pivotal role in the treatment of patients with cancerous tumors. The mission of this department is to cure cancers when possible while always aiming to improve the quality of life of patients, to advance the science of cancer therapy through clinical and basic research, and to train young oncologists to carry these goals forward. Radiation treatment is an alternative to stop or slow the growth of tumors that cannot be removed surgically.
Radiation therapy can be used on noncancerous tumors to get the same results. It will target tumor cells without causing damage to healthy cells.
These therapies are designed to attack specific cancer cells either by interfering with the mechanisms that cause them to grow and spread or by engaging the immune system to kill the cancer cells.
Tumor-treating Field Therapy
This innovative new therapy for glioblastoma uses alternating electric fields to interfere with cell division and keep the cancer from growing.
Many cancer treatments cause side effects such as hair loss or fatigue, but not everyone will have the same side effects.
The American Cancer Society also offers a free online class to help patients manage the side effects of their illness.