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Brain & Spinal Tumors Treatment Information
Treatment plans include a combination of medicines, neurosurgery, radiation and chemotherapy. To deliver the best outcomes in treating your brain or spinal tumor, we perform comprehensive diagnostic tests to fully understand your condition:
- Neurological exam. Your physician will do a neurological exam to assess your movement, sensory skills, reflexes, hearing, speech, vision and mental status if your symptoms, physical exam and medical history indicate a possible brain or spinal tumor.
- Diagnostic tests. Your physician may use a variety of imaging and other tests to locate, diagnose and monitor your tumor during treatment. These tests may include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) produces detailed images of the tissues in your brain and spine. We offer different kinds of MRIs to get the most accurate assessment of your tumor. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can spot chemical abnormalities in body tissues, including the brain and tumors. A functional MRI can help to pinpoint the exact part of your brain responsible for different actions, such as speech. This is helpful when planning for neurosurgery.
- Computed tomography (CT) scans combine X-rays with computer technology to generate fast, imaging slices of body tissues and tumors.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans imagNeuroloyge the cell activity in your brain and other tissues. They help to locate and monitor tumors, which tend to use more glucose (sugar) than normal cells.
- Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) is an imaging test that shows blood flow patterns to different tissues. It can help to identify tumors that grow new blood vessels.
- Laboratory tests examining your blood and urine will provide more information about your tumor.
- Electroencephalograms (EEG) are tests that monitor the electrical activity of your brain waves and can detect abnormalities in the patterns of your brain activity.
- Medicines. Your physician may prescribe a variety of medicines to treat symptoms related to your brain or spinal tumor. These can include anticonvulsants to reduce seizures, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling, and anti-depressants for anxiety and depression.
- Neurosurgery. Surgery is often the first step in treating a brain or spinal tumor. We are experts at using high-level techniques to effectively remove a tumor while preserving surrounding tissue. If a spinal tumor is compressing a nerve and impacting function, surgery can relieve that pressure and may restore normal function. We partner with the Department of Neurological Surgery at the IU School of Medicine and the pediatric neurosurgery program at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Through our Neuroscience Center we deliver the most advanced neurosurgical technology and techniques, including:
- Intraoperative MRI scanners allow your neurosurgeon to perform more precise operations.
- The Zeiss OPMI Pentero is a neurosurgery microscope that uses intraoperative florescence to give your surgeon a clearer picture of blood vessels.
- The NICO Myriad device is used to remove hard-to-reach brain and spinal tumors.
- Spine repair strengthens and realigns your spine during surgery using screws, rods and plates to stabilize your spine.
Radiation therapy. Your physician may prescribe radiation after surgery. This treatment uses X-rays and other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells and prevent them from growing. There are different types of radiation that use computers and imaging technology to more directly target your tumor while avoiding damage to healthy tissue. Stereotactic radiosurgery is a form of radiation therapy that delivers radiation to your tumor from multiple angles without the need for actual surgery. We are highly skilled in these techniques, including:
- Gamma knife is a radiosurgery that uses gamma rays to target tumors in hard-to-reach areas of the brain and spine with pinpoint accuracy.
- Novalis-Shaped beam surgery is used to generate high-intensity, evenly distributed radiation treatment to irregularly shaped tumors.
- Chemotherapy. This treatment uses medicine to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used before surgery to reduce the size of a tumor. It is also often used after surgery in combination with radiation or after radiation is administered.
- Research. Our physicians are very active in research and clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to find new cures and treatments for brain and spinal tumors. We study the properties of the tumors we extract to find ways to treat the most aggressive cancers. We are conducting vaccine trials for tumor patients by making medicines specifically for them, based on the biological properties of their tumor. This is personalized cancer care. We are a leader in finding new tools to detect earlier tumor recurrence and we continue to advance the use of intraoperative fluorescence.
Brain & Spinal Tumors Locations & Physicians
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Brain & Spinal Tumors Support Services
Learn more about brain and spinal tumor treatments at these websites:
A Sampling of Brain & Spinal Tumors Support Services
American Brain Tumor Association
This national nonprofit is devoted to research into the best treatments and cures for brain tumors.
National Brain Tumor Society
With a focus on research funding and public advocacy, this nonprofit also offers patients and their families information about treatments and clinical trials.
National Cancer Institute
This division of the National Institutes of Health studies different types of cancers, including brain and spinal tumors. It offers information on the causes, symptoms, treatments and clinical trials for brain and spinal tumors.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
This division of the National Institutes of Health provides extensive information about brain and spinal tumors, including symptoms, treatments and clinical trials.
Radiological Society of North America
This website offers information about radiological tests and treatments used to care for brain and spinal tumor patients.
Spinal Cord Tumor Association Inc.
Formed by spinal cord tumor survivors, this nonprofit delivers support to patients and families and education and resources to the larger medical community in order to advance research on spinal cord tumors.