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Treatment for Brain and Spine Tumors

Surgery for Brain and Spine Tumors

Neurosurgery is usually the first step in treating an accessible brain or spine tumor. Miami Valley Hospital’s neurosurgeons are highly skilled and experienced in removing non-cancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) tumors ranging from the simple to the complex. 

The amount of tumor the neurosurgeon can safely remove depends on its location in the brain. Tumors are removed to the maximum extent possible. 

Neurosurgery often can require opening the skull to get direct access to the brain, called a craniotomy. Whenever possible, however, Miami Valley Hospital neurosurgeons use minimally invasive techniques to remove brain and spine tumors.

When the tumor is located in or near an area that controls essential functions, such as language, Miami Valley neurosurgeons may perform an awake craniotomy. During the surgery, the patient will feel no pain because the brain itself does not have pain receptors. The patient is sedated while the surgeon opens the skull to expose the brain. The patient is then brought out of sedation to full consciousness and can interact with the neurosurgeon. 

This interaction is the most reliable way to ensure that the doctor does not damage healthy tissue while removing as much of the tumor as possible. The neurosurgeon will ask the patient to answer questions and perform simple tasks to make sure motor and speech function remains intact. 

Brain and spine tumor surgeries are performed in one of our dedicated neurosurgery suites, each outfitted with integrated guidance systems, similar to a GPS system for the brain. A sophisticated system enables neurosurgeons to precisely plan the surgery by visualizing the patient’s anatomy in 3D before and during surgery, while also allowing them to see the exact location of their surgical instruments. A related system enables the neurosurgeon to map the brain using microelectrode recordings.

Throughout the procedure, the surgical team uses 3-D angiography to receive real-time images of the inside of the skull and better visualize brain and spinal cord anatomy. As needed, micro-Doppler technology is used to monitor blood flow during surgery.

Miami Valley’s pathology laboratory is available around the clock to analyze frozen sections of tumors removed during surgery. With a rapid response time, the lab’s findings assist the surgical team in determining next steps during surgery and the patient’s treatment after the procedure.

For our patients’ protection, intraoperative nerve monitoring is done before, during and after the procedure to assure that we are preserving all important nerves as the surgeon progresses. 

Radiation Treatment for Brain and Spine Tumors

The location of some tumors prevents neurosurgeons from being able to remove them in the operating room. For cancerous tumors, even if the tumor is removed, cancer cells can spread into normal, healthy brain tissue that cannot be removed during surgery. For these reasons, radiation therapy is an important part of a treatment plan, especially for patients with cancerous tumors.

Board-certified specialists at Miami Valley Hospital use the TrueBeam stereotactic radiosurgery system to target tumors with an extremely accurate beam of radiation that spares nearby healthy cells. Miami Valley is the only hospital in the region that offers TrueBeam. Specialists can perform a variety of treatment techniques, including stereotactic body radiotherapy and stereotactic radiosurgery, with power, accuracy and speed.

“Radiosurgery” is not really surgery at all. Instead, very precise beams of radiation are used to destroy cancer cells. When the radiation beams hit the cancerous cells, their ability to reproduce is compromised and they eventually die, causing the tumor to shrink.

TrueBeam gives physicians the flexibility to customize treatments for an individual’s particular cancer, including some of the more complex cases in the head, neck and spine. Because every tumor is different, TrueBeam can shape the radiation beam to accurately match the size and form of just about any tumor, regardless of its shape. Learn more about TrueBeam Stereotactic Radiosurgery.

Chemotherapy for Brain and Spine Tumors

Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to attack brain cancer cells. While it is not yet possible to cure all brain tumors, chemotherapy can be helpful in controlling their growth and spread.

The goals of chemotherapy treatment are to:

  • Destroy brain cancer cells
  • Keep brain tumor cells "dormant" 

Each patient receives an individualized treatment plan, and different types of chemotherapy drugs may be used. Patients may have chemotherapy by infusion (drugs delivered through an IV) at Miami Valley South’s Comprehensive Cancer Center under the direction of our oncology team. Some patients receive medication to take at home.

Biological Therapy for Treating Brain Cancer

Biological therapy is a type of treatment that works with the immune system to fight tumor cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which attacks the cancer cells directly, biological therapy helps the immune system fight the tumor cells. Our oncology team offers hormone therapy and biological/targeted therapies to patients who might benefit from them.

Types of biotherapies include monoclonal antibodies, growth factors, vaccines, interferon and interleukin, and gene therapy. Depending on the patient’s individual situation, biological therapy may be part of the brain cancer treatment plan. Learn more about Chemotherapy and Biological Therapies.

Optune™ Treatment for Glioblastoma

Premier Health now offers Optune™, a treatment for both newly diagnosed and recurrent glioblastoma. Optune is a painless, portable, non-invasive medical device that uses transducer arrays applied to the scalp. The arrays are placed in a formation customized to the patient's tumor location and size, and deliver Tumor Treating Fields to disrupt the division of cancer cells, slowing tumor growth. The arrays can be worn beneath a hat, scarf, or wig, and the entire device is contained in a portable backpack. For best response to treatment, Optune must be worn for a minimum of 18 hours per day. Optune can be used alongside other cancer treatments.

Premier Health has seven providers from medical oncology, radiation oncology, and neurosurgery certified to prescribe and monitor glioblastoma treatments using Optune. Optune can provide a greater quality of life for patients with glioblastoma, allowing them to receive cancer treatment during normal daily activities.

For more information about Optune, talk to your doctor.

Content Updated: April 28, 2016

These Miami Valley Hospital locations offer Neurosciences Services.
Neurosciences at Miami Valley Hospital
One Wyoming St. Dayton, OH  45409
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