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Brain Tumor Center

The Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital is an internationally recognized leader in comprehensive and multidisciplinary clinical care, and a hub of excellence for brain tumor research. Our team of specialists is dedicated exclusively to the care of patients with all types of brain tumors, and has extensive experience with:

  • Primary brain tumors, such as glioblastomas, astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and others
  • Brain metastases and leptomeningeal metastases, which originate from other cancers in the body
  • Other primary tumors, such as meningiomas and schwannomas
  • Rare brain tumors including craniopharyngiomas, medulloblastomas, ependymomas pineal tumors, pituitary tumors, and others
  • All types of neurological complications of cancer and their treatments

Our expertise covers all critical components for successful care for patients with brain tumors, from comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and state-of-the-art genomic tumor profiling, to innovative treatment options and cutting-edge clinical trials.

Our Approach

We treat all patients, whether they are newly diagnosed or have already received extensive treatment. Our expert physicians are readily available to offer second opinions for patients from all over the country, and rapidly accommodate our patients for prompt evaluation and initiation of care. We also offer an extensive program to improve patients’ quality of life before, during, and after treatment, including psychosocial support, rehabilitation for memory impairment, and other resources.

Diagnosis

Our experts use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose brain tumors with detailed accuracy. Three Tesla MRIs offer highly sophisticated testing, such as functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and positron emission tomography (PET). Experienced neuroradiologists read all brain scans and evaluate the images for diagnosis. Importantly, all brain tumors that are biopsied or removed at our program undergo whole exome sequencing, the most advanced technique available for tumor characterization, which can target the vulnerabilities of individual tumors.

Medical Oncology

Many brain tumors require chemotherapy, targeted therapies, or other medical treatments, often combined with radiation therapy and surgery. Our team of neuro-oncologists have extensive expertise in delivering oncology treatments, with a focus on achieving optimal efficacy and safety. Each patient receives an individualized and coordinated treatment plan, taking into consideration the tumor type, molecular and genomic information on the tumor, and the patient’s own needs and choices. Additionally, our patients have access to cutting-edge Yale clinical trials exploring multiple novel strategies to fight brain cancer.

Radiation Oncology

Established in 1958 as one of the first Radiation Oncology departments in the country, the Yale Department of Therapeutic Radiology has played a foundational role in the national development of radiotherapy as a cancer treatment. Building on this long tradition of excellence, our patients have access to radiation therapy through many cutting-edge platforms, including the Novalis Tx linear accelerator with BrainLab/ExacTrac guidance, and the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon. Our Gamma Knife program is regarded as a national leader in the treatment of primary and metastatic tumors.

Neurosurgical Oncology

Our primary goal is to remove as much of a brain tumor as safely as possible, while preserving brain function. Our highly skilled and dedicated neurosurgeons employ state-of-the-art techniques, including functional mapping and neurophysiology monitoring, which are sophisticated techniques that allow surgeons to protect critical brain structures during tumor removal. Smilow Cancer Hospital’s intraoperative MRI suite is one of only a few in the world and the only in the state of Connecticut, and allows neurosurgeons to take real-time images during surgery. Following surgery, our specialized ICUs are equipped with techniques to ensure a smooth recovery.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is a special form of radiation therapy used to treat benign and malignant brain tumors, blood vessel abnormalities of the brain and some neurologic conditions. Because the technologies used for SRS enable physicians and technicians to focus delivery accurately within millimeters, precise doses of radiation are delivered directly and only to the targeted area. Sometimes the total dose is divided into two or more sessions, called fractions, in order to deliver an adequate total dose to the tumor while minimizing the effect on the rest of the body.

SRS can be used to treat:

  • Brain tumors
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Skull base tumors (including meningioma and schwannoma)
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Movement disorders

SRS has been shown to offer the following advantages over surgical treatment:

  • Minimally invasive—no incision
  • An option for some tumors that cannot be reached safely by traditional open surgery
  • The ability to perform certain procedures as an outpatient without an overnight stay in the hospital
  • A rapid return to normal activities, in most cases

For more information on Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT), please refer to our frequently asked questions.

Support Services

Our nurses and physician assistants are always available to expertly support our patients. Social workers help ensure psychosocial support is provided to patients and their families throughout treatment. Our neuropsychology clinic administers memory and other neurologic function tests, and provides cognitive rehab and treatments to improve memory, cognitive function and quality of life in patients with brain tumors.

Other available resources for our patients and/or families include:

  • Nutritional counseling
  • Physical therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Pastoral support
  • Support groups for patients and family caregivers

Patients can also apply for financial support, provided to our program by generous donations, that can help offset expenses during treatment.