Our Approach

The expertise of the Brain Tumor Program covers all components critical to managing brain tumors: comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, genomic profiling, leading-edge treatment options, thorough follow-up and psychosocial support. We welcome patients who are newly diagnosed or those who have already received extensive treatment. We also provide consultations for patients in need of second surgeries or follow-up biopsies.

Neuro-oncology surgeons, radiation oncologists, neuroradiologists, medical oncologists, neurologists, neuropathologists and others meet weekly at a Tumor Board Conference to arrive at the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient. Our program members are well acquainted with the most advanced treatment methods. You benefit from that knowledge and from specialized resources, such as a dedicated neurological intensive care unit and the latest imaging technologies.

Our specialized resources include the following:

Intraoperative MRI Suite

Smilow Cancer Hospital’s intraoperative MRI suite is one of only a few such units in the world. It features a powerful MRI that allows neurosurgeons to take real time images during your surgery. Without moving the patient, the doctors can more precisely target the tumor's position, see what areas need protection, and determine the extent to which the tumor has been removed and whether there were any complications.

Previously, patients needing brain surgery received a pre-surgical MRI in an imaging suit, then were brought to the operating suite for surgery. Hours, or sometimes days after surgery, the patient would have a follow-up MRI to determine the effectiveness of the surgery. Only then would the surgeon be able to fully appreciate the extent of tumor removal and decide whether repeat surgery or other therapies are needed. Smilow’s advanced multi-modality image-guided surgical suite provides high-quality images and data in real time, allowing physicians to target problem areas more quickly and effectively. And because of the rapid imaging speed, less contrast dye is required.

As with all care at Smilow Cancer Hospital, the intraoperative MRI allows you to be the central focus of every procedure and permits the highest quality outcomes.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a special form of radiation therapy used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, blood vessel abnormalities of the brain and some neurologic conditions. Because the technologies used for SRS enable physicians and technicians to focus delivery accurately to within millimeters, precise doses of radiation are delivered directly and only to the targeted area. Sometimes the total dose is divided into two or more sessions, called fractions, in order to deliver an adequate total dose to the tumor while minimizing the effect on the rest of the body.

SRS can be used to treat:

  • Brain tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Skull base tumors (including meningioma and schwannoma)
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

SRS has been shown to offer the following advantages over surgical treatment:

  • Minimally invasive – no incision
  • An option for some tumors that cannot be reached safely by traditional open surgery
  • The ability to perform certain procedures as an outpatient without an overnight stay in the hospital
  • A rapid return to normal activities, in most cases

We have treated nearly 3,000 patients with stereotactic radiosurgery since 1991, when this treatment was initially offered to patients on a modified linear accelerator. We currently treat between three and eight patients each week with radiosurgery. The team that provides stereotactic radio surgery includes not only a radiation oncologist and a neurosurgeon, but also a physicist and a nurse. Stereotactic radiosurgery is very rarely associated with complications, and each patient’s case is different, so that all discussions of possible complications should occur with the neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist at the time of the initial consultation.