Several treatment options may be required to remove a brain or spinal tumor, depending on the type and location of the tumor in the nervous system. There have been significant advances in treating brain and spine tumors, and success rates have improved in the last two decades.
Below we list some of the treatment options for brain and spine tumors in adults and children.
Any type of biopsy refers to the removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue.
Biopsies can be used to diagnose as well as treat tumors, depending on how much of the tumor is removed. There are many different types of biopsy procedures.
The most common types include:
Stereotactical Biopsy maps the brain in a 3-dimensional coordinate system. In conjunction with MRI and CT scans, the neurosurgeon is better equipped to accurately target the area of the brain in question.
Radiation is a localized, painless therapy to eradicate cancer cells by destroying them and/or by keeping them from reproducing.
Two types of radiation treatment include:
Radiation has come a long way, and can be delivered with more precision and effectiveness largely due to advanced imaging techniques.
At ANA, our expert neurosurgeons, in consultation with radiation oncologists, determine and recommend the best possible treatment plans—with explanations and support designed to inform and assure you.
Stereotactic radiation, which uses high-powered x-rays on a small part of the body, is used to treat certain types of nervous system tumors. It is a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy, delivered with accuracy and minimal exposure time, both of which are designed to provide results while limiting the effect of the therapy on healthy tissue.
Proton Beam Therapy is a type of radiation delivery system that uses protons rather than x-rays. Depending on the location of the tumor, proton beam therapy can treat it with lower radiation doses to surrounding normal tissue.
Protons (the positively charged parts of an atom) delivered at high energy destroy cancer cells. This type of radiation therapy is particularly desirable for pediatric or adult tumors in critical structures, such as the brain and spine.
Chemotherapy (chemo) uses anti-cancer drugs that are usually given into a vein (IV) or taken by mouth. These drugs are distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream.
Since chemo drugs are unable to enter certain parts of the brain or spine via the above methods, some brain or spine tumors may be treated with drugs administered directly to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or to the spinal canal. In this case, a member of the ANA specialized team will insert a thin tube, called a ventricular access catheter, into the skull via a small hole.
In general, chemotherapy is used for faster growing tumors. Some types of brain tumors, such as medulloblastoma, are frequently treated with chemotherapy.
For advice on the best treatment options for your individual case, contact our expert neurosurgeons.