Neuro-oncologists treat brain tumors and spinal tumors that start from the brain, the spinal cord and the spine (metastatic tumors). We use a combination of medicine, surgery and advanced wearable devices to treat these brain and spine cancers.
Geisinger neuro-oncologists also treat “cancer neurology” patients. These are people who have neurological conditions that are related to other cancers or cancer treatment. We work with oncologists across the Geisinger system to consult on therapies to reduce symptoms like memory loss, seizures and cognitive impairment.
What you should know about neuro-oncology:
- According to the American Cancer Society, the risk for developing a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord during your lifetime is less than 1 percent. Overall, men have a higher risk (about 1 in 143) than women (about 1 in 185).
- A primary tumor of the brain or spinal cord doesn’t usually spread to distant organs. These tumors can still grow and spread into nearby areas, destroying brain tissue, pressing on nerves or doing other damage. Doctors grade tumors I through IV, with grade IV being the fastest growing and needing the most aggressive treatment.
- Metastases (growths) from other organs to the brain, spinal cord and spine occur 10 times more often than primary tumors.
Why choose Geisinger for neuro-oncology care?
- Leading-edge cancer care: Fellowship-trained neuroscientists offer some of the latest, most innovative treatments for brain cancer, including:
- Optune®: We offer the Optune device to treat glioblastoma in adults. Optune is an FDA-approved wearable device that fits like a cap over someone’s skull. It delivers alternating electrical fields aimed at shrinking the brain tumor during the 18 hours a day a patient wears it. We have a large number of patients who use Optune, and it’s been shown to extend life expectancy.
- Ommaya clinic: Ommaya is a type of treatment for cancers that involve the fluid around the brain and spine. We establish an Ommaya reservoir, or small port under the scalp, with surgery. This approach allows us to increase life expectancy and treat the cancer by delivering chemotherapy drugs to the fluid-filled space.
- Neurosurgery and radiation therapy: Our neuro-oncology team works closely with neurosurgeons to determine if surgery will be beneficial. We use many advanced techniques, including Novalis radiation therapy, Gamma Knife Radiation and laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT). By using a laser, we can reach tumors that we couldn’t operate on otherwise. Lasers are a targeted, specific minimally invasive approach that allows you to go home from the hospital the same day. Learn more about how we treat brain tumors at Geisinger.
- Advanced brain imaging: Our neuro-oncology team works closely with the neuro-radiology team to offer the latest in brain imaging. In addition to standard MRI tests, we do perfusion-weighted imaging, which measures the blood volume around the brain. Performing this additional step allows us to determine if the tumor is growing, because a standard MRI may be misleading.
- Access to clinical trials: As a research institution, we offer trials to evaluate new treatments for tumors and other cancers. We also provide trials on palliative care and increasing the quality of life for people living with cancer. We look at every aspect of the disease, and how we can improve patients’ lives.
- Integrated care: Our neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologist and nurse navigators aim at treating the whole patient, creating a continuum of care that encompasses all aspects of their well-being. Learn about other ways Geisinger offers cancer support.