Brain Tumor Treatment
Our Treatment Approach
Some of the nation’s top experts customize your brain tumor care at MD Anderson. They take a team approach to deliver the most-advanced therapies with the fewest possible side effects, keeping a constant eye on your quality of life.
These highly trained physicians work together to give individualized care for malignant (cancer) and benign (non-cancer) brain tumors, collaborating and communicating frequently. Your personal team of experts may include renowned neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and neuro-oncologists, supported by a specially trained staff.
Like all surgeries, brain tumor surgery is most successful when it is performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular experience. This is especially true with brain tumors, because it is crucial to remove as much of the tumor as possible while leaving intact as much brain function as possible.
MD Anderson neurosurgeons are among the most skilled and recognized in the world. They perform a large number of brain tumor surgeries each year, using the least-invasive and most-advanced techniques.
And MD Anderson has the most-modern technology available to treat brain tumors, including:
We are proud to be one of the few cancer centers in the nation to house a prestigious federally funded brain SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) program. This means we have a range of clinical trials of investigative treatments.
If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.
Why Choose MD Anderson?
- Innovative brain tumor treatments including proton therapy, GammaKnife radiosurgery, targeted therapies
- Advanced surgical techniques to avoid damage to critical areas, including awake craniotomy and Brainsuite®
- Team approach to brain tumor care
- Specialized neuropathologists for pinpoint brain tumor diagnosis
- Range of clinical trials of investigative agents for brain tumors
Brain Cancer Knowledge Center
Our Brain Tumor Treatments
If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the location and type of the cancer and your general health.
Your treatment for a brain tumor will be customized to your particular needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.
Surgery usually is the first treatment for brain tumors. Even when complete removal is not possible surgery may be able to:
- Help reduce the tumor’s size
- Relieve symptoms
- Help doctors decide what other treatments are needed
The most common surgery for brain tumors is craniotomy, which involves opening the skull. Some brain tumors can be removed with little or no damage to the brain. However, many grow in areas that make them difficult or impossible to remove without destroying important parts of the brain.
When a brain tumor is in a challenging location, our neurosurgeons can use this innovative open MRI system that allows them to view the tumor during surgery. This helps them remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging other parts of the brain. MD Anderson’s Brainsuite is the first in the world of its type.
Radiation therapy may be able to stop or slow the growth of brain tumors that cannot be removed with surgery. It may be used:
- With chemotherapy to help the radiation work better or lessen effect on normal parts of the brain
- With targeted therapies to destroy remaining cancer cells
New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow MD Anderson doctors to target brain tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.
MD Anderson uses the most advanced radiation treatment methods, including:
- Gamma Knife radiosurgery, which is not really surgery. It delivers a pinpoint dose of radiation from hundreds of angles
- Focused radiation therapy, which is aimed directly at the tumor and immediately surrounding area
- Whole-brain radiation therapy, which may be needed if you have two or more brain tumors in different locations
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which shapes the radiation beam to the shape of the brain tumor and lessens exposure to the rest of the brain
- Proton therapy
The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the largest and most advanced centers in the world. It’s the only proton therapy facility in the country within a comprehensive cancer center. This means that this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.
Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly to the brain tumor site, with no damage to nearby healthy tissue. For some patients, this therapy results in better cancer control with fewer side effects.
It may be used to treat tumors in very sensitive areas, including skull base and spinal tumors. Proton therapy can be especially important for children to avoid the long-term effects of radiation on developing brains.
Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy
Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a new treatment being used by MD Anderson neurosurgeons. LITT is performed by implanting a laser catheter into the tumor and heating it to temperatures high enough to kill the tumor. The treatment is minimally invasive, often requiring little more than a 2-millimeter incision in the scalp, and takes just a few minutes to perform.
The catheter is implanted using advanced computer imaging techniques. The laser is guided through the catheter with real-time MRI (in our Brainsuite®), allowing surgeons to limit thermal energy delivery only to the tumor. Most patients can go home the day after treatment and can quickly return to normal activities.
LITT is currently being used to treat patients with primary and metastatic brain tumors, but can also help patients who do not respond to stereotactic radiosurgery or have radiation necrosis (tissue death caused by radiation treatment).
MD Anderson offers the most up-to-date and advanced chemotherapy options for brain tumors. These drugs may be taken orally or by injection. They may be given alone or with other treatments.
Chemotherapy often is not as effective for brain cancer as some other types of cancer. This is because of the blood-brain barrier, small blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord that protect the brain from harmful substances. They also may act as a shield against chemotherapy drugs.
These new drugs target the specific gene changes that cause cancer. MD Anderson is at the forefront of discovering these agents. Many of our brain tumor clinical trials include analysis of the molecular profiles of patients’ tumors.
Our Clinical Trials
Because of its status as one of the world’s premier cancer centers, MD Anderson participates in many clinical trials (research studies) for brain tumors. Sometimes they are your best option for treatment. Other times, they help researchers learn how to treat cancer and improve the future of cancer treatment.
Brain tumor clinical trials include studies on:
- Protecting neurologic function
- Maintaining cognitive function
- Preserving quality of life
To find out more about clinical trials at MD Anderson for brain tumors, visit our clinical trials page or speak to your doctor.