Penn Brain Tumor Center


Penn neurosurgeons provide personalized medical, surgical and therapeutic approaches to the treatment of benign and cancerous brain tumors.

Treatment of Cancerous Brain Tumors

The Penn Brain Tumor Center provides an integrative and comprehensive treatment approach for patients with malignant or metastatic tumors of the brain. The goal of all cancer treatment is to eliminate the cancer and prevent or reduce the chance of tumor regrowth in the future.

The options for the treatment of brain tumors include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy - alone or in combination - and are dependent upon the type and stage of the tumor and the patient's condition.

Patients are involved in all decisions for care. Every case is reviewed each week by the center's tumor board, a multidisciplinary team of world-renowned specialists from the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, radiation oncology, neuropathology, neuroradiology, rehabilitation medicine, neuro-psychiatry and social work.

The medical, surgical and therapeutic approaches used to treat brain tumors at Penn Medicine include:

  • Awake craniotomy: Allows for intraoperative speech and motor mapping.
  • Chemotherapy: Oral or intravenous medications to eliminate cancer cells.
  • Gamma Knife®: stereotactic radiosurgery: A noninvasive alternative to surgery using radiation for treating cancerous and noncancerous brain tumors. Gamma Knife uses radiation to damage the DNA in cancer cells to destroy their ability to multiply. It is used to treat benign tumors as well as malignant tumors, in particular, gliomas and brain metastases. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is one of the most precise, powerful, and proven treatments for brain tumors.
  • CyberKnife® Another form of non-invasive stereotactic radiosurgery used to treat tumors anywhere in the body.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): These types of radiation therapy use X-rays or other high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells and their ability to multiply and to shrink tumors.
  • Neurosurgery: The treatment of choice for tumors that can be removed without causing major neurological problems. The goals of neurosurgery are to:
    • Remove as much of the tumor as possible
    • Relieve pressure on the brain from the tumor
    • Provide tissue to establish a precise diagnosis
    • Determine the extent of the tumor
    • Provide access for other treatments, such as radiation implants
  • Proton therapy: A highly targeted form of radiation therapy that delivers precise doses of radiation to a tumor while minimizing exposure to the surrounding normal tissues.
Proton Beam

Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is one of the largest and most advanced facilities in the world for this precise form of radiation. Patients have access to this new treatment option, which is seamlessly integrated with the full range of oncology services at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

Research Leads to Advanced Treatment

Penn Medicine is the Philadelphia region's only participant in the National Cancer Institute-funded Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC), allowing access to novel clinical trials and therapies not offered anywhere else in the region, such as:

  • Clinical trials utilizing novel chemotherapies
  • Anti-tumor vaccines and other immunotherapies
  • Biologic response modifiers and genetic-based therapies

Patient Support

At Penn, functional recovery is as important as scientific discovery. A wide variety of support services are available to patients in the neuro-oncology program. These include:

  • Counseling: A full-time social worker supports and assists patients with brain tumors and their families.
  • Brain Tumor Support Group: Patients and their families share experiences while gaining support and knowledge.
  • Rehabilitation: Specialists work with patients to maximize quality of life during and after cancer treatment.
  • At-home Services: Patients are able to maintain independence while receiving a variety of clinical and support services at home.