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Brain Tumor Treatment

Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center offers different treatment options for brain tumors. Some treatments are called standard, and others are being tested in clinical trials. Standard treatments are those that are currently used and are known to be the best and most effective. A treatment clinical trial is a study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments.

When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment, while others are available during or after treatment.

Treatment options vary depending on your situation. Talk with your team about the approach that is best for you.

Standard Treatments for Patients with Brain Tumors

The Abramson Cancer Center offers the latest standard treatments for brain tumors.


Surgery is used to diagnose and treat adult brain tumors. Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, you may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery to lower the risk that the cancer will come back is called adjuvant therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Penn radiation oncologists are using the latest technology available including image modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Penn Medicine is recognized for our techniques that target radiation precisely to the tumor site while sparing normal tissue.

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.

There are a few types of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. One type of external radiation therapy is hyperfractionated radiation therapy, in which the total dose of radiation is divided into small doses given more than once a day.
  • Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type of tumor and where it is in the brain.
  • Proton Therapy is the most precise form of radiation treatment for cancer, delivering doses of radiation to the tumor while minimizing exposure to the surrounding normal tissue.

Dedicated Brain Tumor Nurse Navigator

Being diagnosed with a brain tumor can be overwhelming. You’ll likely have a lot of questions on procedures, appointments, and next steps. Our dedicated brain tumor Nurse Navigator will help you through the process.

  • Eleanor Miller, MSN, RN, OCN: 215-615-3130
  • Returns calls within 24 hours, coordinates patient scheduling, answers questions, and provides resources
  • Provides information on second opinions


Penn neuro-oncologists have extensive experience in cancer treatment and research and are leading the way in developing new treatments for brain tumors.

These specialists are actively involved in planning your overall treatment. If you need chemotherapy, they'll oversee this part of your care.

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/ or radiation therapy.

Clinical Trials

Penn Medicine is proud to be the only center in the Delaware Valley participating in the NIH sponsored Adult Brain Tumor Consortium for advanced clinical trials. Our researchers actively pursue new treatment options and establish new protocols based on their studies. An example of our commitment to introducing novel techniques and advancing care for patients with brain tumors include:

  • First-in-man trial of EGFrVIII CAR-T in glioblastoma was published in Science Translation Medicine in 2017.
  • A second CAR-T GBM trial recently funded by Novartis.
  • TumorGlow™ Technology, Precision Surgery--Penn Medicine is the founder of this revolutionary technology that enables tumors in the body to ‘glow’ under infrared lighting in the operating room.

With many clinical trials underway at Penn, consult with your provider to see if you are eligible for any.