Brain cancer and other nervous system cancers begin when cells begin to grow uncontrollably and eventually form a mass, called a tumor.
Marshfield Clinic's team of specialists in neuro-oncology, neurosurgery, radiation oncology and medical oncology treat brain tumors and other cancers that affect the central nervous system.
The brain and spinal column make up the central nervous system (CNS), where all vital functions, including thought, speech, and strength of the body are controlled.
The treatment of an adult brain tumor depends on many factors, including:
The size, location, type, and grade of the tumor
Whether it is cancerous
Whether it has spread to other parts of the CNS or body
The person's age and overall health
Surgery is often the first treatment most commonly used for a brain tumor and is often the only treatment needed for a benign brain tumor.
Surgery is performed for the purposes of:
Biopsy, reducing the size of the tumor
Removing the tumor completely
For symptom management, if the cancer can not be cured
To remove the tumor, the surgeon will perform a procedure called a craniotomy.
Mapping and enhanced imaging devices give surgeons more tools to plan and perform the surgery.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and is an important part of the treatment for patients with brain tumors. It can be curative, but is often used to prolong life.
Gamma Knife™- The Gamma Knife is not really a knife at all but a non-invasive treatment for patients with deep brain tumors and abnormal blood vessels in the brain.
A dose of gamma radiation is directed by highly sophisticated computer technology to the tumor site, sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
Gamma KnifeTM surgery involves a team of medical experts from neurosurgery, radiation oncology and radiation physics.
Marshfield Clinic physicians have access to one of the only Gamma Knife units in the state through Marshfield Medical Center.
This technology enables our physicians the ability to treat patients with tumors who would not have been able to be treated with other technologies.
IMRT - Intensity Modulation Radiation Therapy (IMRT). This allows the radiation oncology team to:
- Customize a patient's treatment to the size, shape and location of the tumor.
- Minimize the amount of healthy tissue that is exposed to radiation.
- Treat tumors previously considered untreatable.
External-Beam Radiation - This traditional form of radiation therapy delivers radiation from outside the body. This course of treatment is less precise, but allows a wider area of tissue around the tumor to be treated.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and, in the case of brain and CNS cancer, is primarily used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy.
The formation of new blood vessels feeding tumors is called angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenesis drugs work by cutting off a tumor's blood supply so the tumor starves and is prevented from growing and/or spreading.