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Neuro-Oncology Care for International Patients

Discover Neuro-oncology services at Mass General Brigham, including brain tumor surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

CT scan of brain and base of skull

Our neuro-oncology expertise

Mass General Brigham provides the most advanced care for patients with tumors of the brain or spinal cord (also called nervous system tumors).  

We have extensive experience in diagnosing and managing the full spectrum of neuro-oncology conditions, including:  

  • Glioblastoma: Our team brings high-volume expertise in caring for patients with glioblastoma. We offer all the latest treatment options, including novel neurosurgical and radiation therapy techniques, as well as access to cutting-edge trials of new treatments
  • IDH-mutant brain tumors: Mass General Brigham is an international leader in advancing the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutant brain tumors, including astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas
  • Meningioma: Our team has the skills to safely remove meningiomas that other centers may consider inoperable and uses state-of-the-art radiation technologies, including proton beam therapy. We also are international leaders in chemotherapy clinical trials for recurrent meningiomas
  • Metastatic brain disease: Our physician-scientists are pushing the boundaries of care for metastatic brain disease and deliver advanced treatment options like proton beam therapy and targeted cancer therapies
  • Neurofibromatosis: We are a national and international referral center for neurofibromatosis, host one of the nation's largest adult neurofibromatosis clinics and treat both adults and children who have been diagnosed with, or are at risk for, the disease
  • Spinal cord tumors: We offer highly specialized care for glioblastomas, ependymomas, meningiomas and other tumors that can grow within or next to the spinal cord

On the leading edge of neuro-oncology treatments

At Mass General Brigham, we have at our disposal all the latest treatments for neuro-oncology conditions. Depending on your condition and personal situation, your care team may use one or more of the following options to give you the best chance at a successful outcome. 

Surgery may be necessary to remove a nervous system tumor. Among the advanced procedures available are fluorescence-guided surgery using 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) for gliomas. This agent lights up cancer cells in the operating room, allowing for more complete tumor removal. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of 5-ALA for this purpose in 2017, which is otherwise not yet widely available outside of the United States. We also utilize intraoperative MRI scans for certain tumors to maximize tumor removal.  

Our surgical team is also skilled in awake brain surgery. These procedures are performed while you are awake but sedated. They enable us to monitor and test you in the operating room when removing a tumor near an area of the brain controlling language, vision or motor skills.  

Chemotherapy uses drugs (given intravenously or orally) to destroy cancer cells. Your care team may employ chemotherapy to stop your cancer from growing following surgery and/or radiation. 

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. The goal is to shrink or eliminate cancer cells without damaging healthy surrounding tissue. 

Mass General Brigham offers the latest radiation technologies, some of which are found in few other U.S. hospitals, to more fully treat certain neuro-oncologic conditions. These technologies include:  

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery, where radiation is given in one large dose  
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy, where radiation is given in multiple doses over several days 
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which "paints" radiation doses onto the tumor with pinpoint precision 

Proton beam therapy — an advanced form of radiation treatment — uses a high-energy, focused proton beam to target tumors with incredible precision. Compared with the use of X-ray beams, proton beam therapy reduces side effects because less radiation goes into normal tissue surrounding the tumor.  

Mass General Brigham is home to the only proton therapy center in the northeastern United States, and brings unparalleled experience in treating benign and malignant tumors with this approach. In fact, we were the world's first center to harness the power of high-energy protons for medical care.

Learn more about proton beam therapy. 

Immunotherapy harnesses the power of your own immune system to find and attack cancer cells. CAR T-cell therapy is a form of immunotherapy that involves engineering T-cells (a type of white blood cells) for this purpose. It is one of the many state-of-the-art cancer therapies available at Mass General Brigham.

Learn more about CAR t-cell therapy.

Targeted therapy is a form of personalized medicine in which a drug is chosen based on the specific genetic mutation or alteration found in your own cells.

Bone marrow transplant may involve using stem cells from your own body (autologous transplant) or from a donor (allogeneic transplant). With autologous transplant, stem cells from your bone marrow are collected and stored, you are administered high-dose chemotherapy, and then your stem cells are returned to your body through an infusion. With allogeneic transplant, healthy stem cells usually come from a family member, volunteer donor or blood saved from an umbilical cord. Our bone marrow transplant program brings high-volume expertise in both procedures and is advancing the field through clinical trials and other research studies. 

Treating Brain Tumors with Car-T Cells

Bob Carter, MD, PhD, discusses the promise of CAR-T therapy for solid tumors in the brain. 

A team of neuro-oncology experts behind you

Meet Mass General Brigham's multidisciplinary team of brain, spine and nerve cancer experts.

Noninvasive Techniques in Brain Tumor Treatment

Bakhos Tannous, PhD, discusses research in molecular imaging that investigates how secreted luciferase could act as a probe to indicate the drug's efficacy.

Neuro-oncology care for international patients

Each year, thousands of patients from more than 120 countries travel to Mass General Brigham for medical care, second opinions and treatments unavailable anywhere else in the world. 

Mass General Brigham is experienced in caring for neuro-oncology patients who are traveling great distances to our hospitals in Boston. Your cancer team here and our international patient services team will help you prepare for and plan the appropriate amount of time to stay in Boston for your appointments, treatments and any recovery time. During this recovery time in Boston or back home in your country, our clinical team will monitor your well-being and progressions to continuously optimize your treatment plan and symptoms. 

Many of our international patients have questions about everything from travel and lodging to scheduling appointments. Our international patient services team is here to help. We look forward to making your Mass General Brigham experience as healing and stress-free as possible.