Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Program

Brain Tumor

At the Abramson Cancer Center, our clinicians and researchers are leading the way in clinical care and research for brain and spinal cord tumors. By putting our experience to work, we offer the best possible treatment outcomes.

A Patient-Centered Approach to Your Care

Today there is more hope than ever for those with brain or spinal cord tumors. If diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor, it's important to have the best team of experts.

Our goal is to provide the best chance for cure while preserving quality of life for each patient. The program's patient-centered approach means your team of physicians, therapists and nurses provide the care and support you and your family need.

Providing the Most Advanced Treatments Available

We offer the latest diagnostic and treatment advances for all types of brain and spinal cord tumors including:

  • Astrocytic Tumors
  • Oligodendroglial Tumors
  • Mixed Gliomas
  • Ependymal Tumors
  • Embryonal Cell Tumors: Medulloblastoma (Grade IV)
  • Pineal Parenchymal Tumors
  • Meningeal Tumors
  • Germ Cell Tumors
  • Tumors of the Sellar Region: Craniopharyngioma (Grade I) and Pituitary Tumor
  • Recurrent Brain Tumors

Our specialists use new procedures that allow the surgeon to combine the use of the operating microscope, surgical laser, and computer-guided tumor detection techniques that use CT scan and MRI scan images of the brain and central nervous system. These advances allow our neurosurgeons to remove tumors in cases that were previously considered to be "inoperable."

As home to one of largest brain tumor tissue banks in the country, with more than 4,000 specimens catalogued, our doctors are able to search for specific gene signatures and develop personalized treatment options.

Our clinical trials program, which evaluates the effectiveness of new therapies, gives our patients access to the latest treatment advances, including gene therapy. Many of the newest and most innovative approaches we utilize are not offered elsewhere in the region.

Additional treatment options include:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • CyberKnife®
  • Gamma Knife®
  • Gamma Knife PerfexionTM
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Proton therapy

A Multidisciplinary Team of Experts

Our clinicians work collaboratively with other subspecialties within Penn Neurology and other disciplines across Penn Medicine to provide treatment for brain or spinal cord tumors.

Our team offers:

  • Multidisciplinary evaluation by physician specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, radiation oncology, neuro-oncology, neuropathology, neuroradiology, rehabilitation medicine, and neuro-psychiatry
  • Care provided by nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants with advanced training and experience in treating brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Patient Support Specialists who are experts in navigating complex health care situations and act as a consistent point of contact and a reliable source for support
  • Cancer Counselors who work exclusively with cancer patients and their families
  • Registered Dietitians who specialize in cancer nutrition and provide information based on sound nutritional therapies

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors Research Program

Every day, our scientists and physicians work to increase our knowledge about brain and spinal cord tumors and to find new ways to prevent and treat this disease. Because of these efforts, research advances can more quickly benefit our patients.

Our acclaimed laboratory research program is addressing some of the most fundamental CNS tumor problems, such as:

  • What controls CNS tumor growth
  • What makes CNS tumors difficult to treat
  • Which of the new strategies developed in the laboratory will have the greatest likelihood of becoming a major advance in CNS cancer treatment

Support Services for People with Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors 

A brain or spinal cord tumor diagnosis can be frightening and overwhelming for patients, families and caregivers. At Penn, we offer support services to help you and your family cope through this difficult time. 

At-home services 

Our at-home services focus on meeting the health needs of homebound cancer patients and their families. These services enable cancer patients to maintain personal dignity and independence while receiving a variety of clinical and support services. This personalized approach actively encourages family involvement in a patient's case. Our nurses, social workers, dietitians, home health aides and specially trained volunteers are available to assist you at home. The home care staff works under the direction of your personal doctor who remains in charge of your medical care. 

Counseling 

The neuro-oncology program has a full-time social worker dedicated to providing support and assistance to you and your family. We provide counseling and are available to meet with you privately or in family sessions. Whenever possible, these sessions can be scheduled to coincide with doctor visits. 

Support groups 

The Abramson Cancer Center has one of the largest and longest-running brain tumor support groups in the region. Patients and families join once a month for two hours to discuss common issues and share experiences. It is a wonderful opportunity to gain support and knowledge while meeting others facing similar situations and feelings. The group also conducts open meetings for general support and provides opportunities for patient and family networking.