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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Meet Mass General Brigham's multidisciplinary team of brain, spine and nerve cancer experts.
Each year, thousands of patients from more than 140 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.