Penn neurosurgeons are nationally renowned as "Top Doctors" for their skill, innovation and expertise.
We work closely with national organizations such as the American Brain Tumor Association, National Brain Tumor Society, National Cancer Institute and the NCI-sponsored Adult Brain Tumor Consortium to provide outstanding, personalized care.
Our approach is based on the philosophy that: "We perform tumor surgery, not brain surgery." We offer an expanding range of advanced treatment options for targeting and destroying brain tumors. In making clinical decisions, our team provides best practices using the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines.
An active program of clinical trials and experimental therapeutics allow our brain tumor physicians to provide treatment for tumors that today are considered incurable, including novel drug and vaccine therapies.
Advancements at the Penn Brain Tumor Center
We have the most experienced brain care team in the region, and the most advanced treatment options available anywhere. Our researchers are continually expanding our knowledge of brain tumors.
Below are some of the innovative ways that we are exploring new approaches to brain tumor and brain cancer treatment:
- Personalized medicine - Brain tumor cells shed tiny bits of themselves in the body. Researchers at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center and the Penn Brain Tumor Center are working to determine how these unique "biomarkers" can help predict an individual's response to treatment.
- Brain mapping/neuro-imaging - Neuronavigation is the neurosurgeon's "road map" for image-guided neurosurgery. Precision is critically important. Penn uses the most advanced imaging tools available and our neurosurgeons are experienced in finding and safely removing brain tumors.
- Immunotherapy - Currently in development, Immunotherapy treatment for brain cancer helps the body's immune system target and destroy cancer cells, as well as slow the growth and spread of tumor cells.
- ABTC clinical trials - Founded in 2009, the Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC) is funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI). The ABTC develops and introduces new treatment approaches for malignant brain tumors. Penn Medicine is the Philadelphia's only ABTC participant and offers clinical trials for patients not available elsewhere in the region — including novel chemotherapies, biologic response modifiers, genetic-based therapies anti-tumor vaccines and other immunotherapies.
- Proton therapy - A highly targeted form of radiation therapy, proton therapy delivers precise doses of radiation to a tumor while causing less damage to healthy surrounding tissues and resulting in fewer side effects than traditional radiation treatment options. Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is one of only a few such centers in the U.S. and treats a variety of cancers — including brain and skull-based tumors.
- Penn Medicine/CHOP biobanking partnership - Through collaboration with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Penn Medicine has created an extensive collection of blood, DNA, tissue and health information samples donated by volunteers for research. This information is vital for improving clinical research, enhancing storage and retrieval protocols, growing our knowledge of brain tumor genomics and translating findings to improvements in personalized medicine.
- Cognitive preservation with surgery for brain metastases - For patients with brain metastases-cancer originating elsewhere in the body and spreading to the brain-surgery followed by radiation therapy is the standard plan of treatment. Sophisticated neuroimaging called diffusion tractography allows Penn neurosurgeons to visualize pathways in the brain and avoid critical brain structures during surgery. Furthermore, recent advances in the precision of radiation dosing through stereotactic radiosurgery and chemotherapeutic wafers offer patients a better chance of minimizing the toxic side effects of radiation to the brain. This results in preserved brain function and control of speaking, movement and other key functions of the brain.
- Translational center of excellence - The Neuro Translational Center of Excellence is a national center for personalized brain tumor therapy and is advancing the standard of care for patients. Through a collaborative partnership, the Penn Brain Tumor Center can utilize the advanced technologies needed to, not only increase survival rates, but maximize recovery of brain function following treatment.
- Electric fields therapy - Electric fields therapy, or "tumor treating fields" (TTF), is a treatment that has been shown to slow or reverse tumor progression by causing cell death in certain solid tumors. This non-invasive treatment uses electric fields within the human body that disrupt the rapid cell division of cancer cells. Currently, Penn Medicine offers TTF clinical trials for newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients.
- Stem cell biomarkers - Researchers have identified stem cell biomarkers that are measurable in cerebrospinal fluid and serum following a brain injury. This allows surgeons to indicate the magnitude of brain damage, among other things. By developing a panel of such biomarkers for neurodegeneration along with the biochemical tests needed for precise measurement, Penn researchers aim to improve the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of acute brain injuries.
Bringing Research to Patient Care
The Penn Brain Tumor Center represents the forefront of the field of neuro-oncology, where new research discoveries are rapidly translated to innovative care and better treatment options for our patients. The center has organized a unique group of more than 20 clinical and scientific faculty from eight Penn institutions, with a single mission to advance new therapies from the laboratory to clinical practice.
We understand that this can be a confusing and uncertain time, especially when evaluating your options. At Penn, we want to guide you and your family through your diagnosis and help you understand the treatment options available.