How are primary brain tumors treated?
Primary brain tumor treatment may involve surgery or radiation therapy or both. In some cases, cancer drugs may be used before or after surgery and radiation therapy.
Your care team at the Institute will create a tailored treatment plan based on the size and location of the tumor and your general health. Our primary brain tumor treatment services include:
- Surgery - Our neuro-oncology surgeons are skilled in the most advanced brain surgery techniques. They employ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record and assess your brain activity before – and sometimes during – surgery. This helps them create a detailed surgery plan and remove as much tumor tissue as possible without harming your physical and cognitive function. Our surgeons also use surgical navigation (computer-assisted surgery) to navigate tools more precisely during your procedure. At times, they use MRI during surgery to check if all tumor tissue has been removed before ending the procedure. These sophisticated technologies ensure effective, efficient tumor removal. In some cases, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive brain surgery through neuroendoscopy or awake craniotomy (open brain surgery in which you are awake but sedated).
- Radiation therapy - This treatment uses ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Our radiation oncology specialists use intensity modulated radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and proton therapy to deliver precise doses of radiation to primary brain tumors and protect healthy brain tissue. Miami Cancer Institute is one of a few cancer centers in the nation – and the first in South Florida – to offer proton therapy, an advanced form of radiation therapy that is more precise than traditional forms of radiation therapy. Learn more about proton therapy and if it could benefit you.
- Cancer drugs - Your care team could recommend cancer drugs such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy to manage your brain tumor before or after surgery and radiation therapy. The genetic information from your brain tumor biopsy tells your doctors if you are a good candidate for a cancer drug. For most primary brain tumors, this treatment is only available after surgery and radiation therapy through our clinical trial program.
- Tumor treating fields - This is used to treat some types of primary brain tumors. Devices taped to the head send low-intensity electrical fields through the skull. These electrical fields may inhibit tumor growth without causing side effects.
- Medicines - Your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve swelling in the brain or anti-seizure medicines if you are having seizures.
- Neurocognitive evaluation - This assesses your brain function and is done before you begin treatment. If you experience complications from radiation therapy or chemotherapy, another evaluation will be done to check for any changes in your cognitive abilities.
- Rehabilitation - You could require rehabilitation after treatment to strengthen affected physical or cognitive functions. This can include physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. Rehabilitation at the Institute is guided by a physiatrist who specializes in treating patients with brain tumors.
Once your treatment is complete, your care team provides follow-up care to treat any side effects of your therapy and monitor for tumor recurrence.
A multidisciplinary team of cancer experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, plastic reconstructive surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, social workers, patient navigators and clinical trials staff meet weekly to discuss select complex cases and determine the best course of care. Stem cell transplantation experts and hematologic oncology experts are also available to discuss complex cases.
Miami Cancer Institute can provide access to clinical trials not widely available elsewhere. Clinical trials find new ways to treat and diagnose cancer and are ongoing. If an appropriate trial is available, we will talk to you about the benefits and risks.
South Florida's First Proton Therapy Center
Proton therapy is a highly specialized treatment that directs proton particles toward tumors to destroy cancer cells while largely sparing healthy tissue and decreasing the risk of side effects. This sophisticated treatment is used only for certain types of cancers and in a limited number of individuals.