The brain is a complex organ. When it’s affected by cancer or other non-cancerous tumors the latest diagnostic and treatment techniques available are needed for treatment. The University of Michigan has been at the forefront of neurological and neurosurgical care, education and research for over 90 years. We emphasize compassionate care, personalized attention, and involvement of the patients in decision-making – to help preserve the quality of life of the patients we treat.
The U-M Neuro-oncology Program specializes in treating malignant (cancerous) and non-malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord using advanced neurosurgical and radiation approaches, chemotherapy, anti-angiogenic therapy, and experimental therapies. Our team includes more than 30 physicians and scientists with expertise in brain, spine or ocular tumors. This includes nationally recognized neuro-oncologists – neurologists who are specially-trained to treat brain tumors, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuroradiologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, and neuropathologists who work as a team to give patients the best options for fighting brain tumors or neurological complications of cancer. We also treat a large number of patients with cancer that has directly or indirectly affected the nervous system.
Key features of our program include:
- Weekly Brain Tumor Board, where patients are discussed by our team to review cases and determine which method of treatment would be best for the individual patient.
- Weekly Multi-disciplinary Clinic, where adult patients may see a neuro-oncologist, neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist in the same setting.
- Neuro-oncology Clinic which is staffed by 2 neuro-oncologists, who emphasize comprehensive care in addition to chemotherapy and anti-angiogenic therapy (drugs that attack the abnormal blood vessels in tumors).
- Neurosurgery Clinic where our neurosurgeons see patients who may benefit from surgical intervention – when possible, we emphasize minimally invasive surgery, in which tumors may be removed through the nose or by passing a scope into the brain.
- Part of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of 39 centers in the U.S. to earn the National Cancer Institute’s “Comprehensive” designation – and the only one in Michigan to also be in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. It receives the most NCI grants for research and is a leader in stem cell research. Offering these experts under one roof contributes to advances in treatment and research that benefit patients with brain tumors and neurological complications of cancer.
- Neuro-ophthalmology Clinic, which treats vision problems/disorders that are associated with the brain.
- Pediatric Brain Tumor Clinic, where children with brain tumors are seen by specialists in pediatric neurosurgery and pediatric neuro-oncology.
- Pituitary Clinic, one of the busiest in the country, where patients are managed by a neurosurgeon and endocrinologist with advanced expertise in using multiple approaches to treat pituitary tumors.
- Radiation Oncology, one of the leading departments in the country, known for its contributions to accurate image-guided targeting of radiation
- Skull Base Clinic, staffed by head-and-neck surgeons as well as neurosurgeons with special training and expertise in removing tumors behind the nose, deep to the ear, and underneath the brain.
We also offer radiosurgery treatments for brain tumors using the latest technology, delivered by a medical team who are leaders in their fields. Sterotactic radiosurgery can be the preferred option in certain smaller tumors. Radiosurgery also may be used if there is more than one tumor being treated, which saves the patient from undergoing multiple procedures.
All patients who come to U-M for radiosurgery treatment for brain tumors are evaluated by a neurosurgeon and a radiation oncologist, who ensure you receive the optimal treatment and care for your condition. Your treatment will be coordinated with other specialists including a radiation physicist, radiation technician and dosimitrist who makes sure that the prescribed dose of radiation is delivered by the therapy plan. As a leader in radiation methods and processes we make the use of radiation therapy as safe as possible.
We use the most advanced technology available - advanced linear accelerators, or LINAC, for treatment, because of the advantages it has when compared to other technologies we’ve evaluated, such as the CyberKnife and Gamma Knife. This includes the ability to treat all types of tumors in an extremely precise manner, permitting us to make finer adjustments. The LINAC also can be used to successfully target small lesions or deep, inaccessible lesions.
Cutting Edge and Innovative Research
A number of research scientists attack the problem of brain tumors from different angles, helping to advance our understanding of cancer and identifying new ways of fighting it. Their work results in the development of new treatment options that are then brought forward in clinical trials. We were the first center in Michigan to use gene therapy against brain tumors. We have contributed to key advances in minimally invasive surgery, neuroimaging of brain tumors with MRI and PET, accurate targeting of radiation, and drug therapy.
Our team is active in clinical trials featuring locally developed treatments, treatments offered by several different networks and collaborative groups and treatments developed by the pharmaceutical industry.