Brain Tumor Treatment Options
Patients at the Lou and Jean Malnati Brain Tumor Institute of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (MBTI) receive care from a multidisciplinary team of experts who meet weekly to develop the optimum treatment plan for each patient. In addition, our experts regularly collaborate with experts around the nation and around the world. When determining the most effective treatment strategy for each patient, all factors are considered, including the type, size and location of a tumor.
Treatment often involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, radiosurgery and chemotherapy, including novel treatments that work on tumor biology or together with the immune system. When applicable, your doctor may discuss the possibility of a clinical trial. We offer one of the largest clinical trial portfolios for brain tumors in the Midwest, giving our patients access to therapies that are not yet widely available.
Our physicians have been instrumental in developing the current standard of care for the treatment of central nervous system tumors, and they continue to innovate therapeutic approaches. As a national leader in the treatment of brain and spine tumors, our patients benefit from the newest and best treatment options and resources available.
Depending on the type of tumor and the therapy required, you may receive multiple treatments. This might be with chemotherapy, targeted biological agents, immunotherapy or some combination of these treatments. We have been and continue to be pioneers in the use of novel devices to improve patient procedures and care such as:
- Precision and navigation during surgery
- Ultrasound to open the blood brain barrier and allow delivery of modern agents in higher concentrations to the brain
- Alternating electrical fields to enhance effect of conventional treatments
The institute's surgical team performs an average of 600 major brain tumor operations per year. Our specialists treat patients with both benign and malignant tumors of the brain, and they have special expertise in cranial base surgery, transsphenoidal surgery, functional and stereotactic surgery, and endoscopic surgery.
Our surgeons utilize state-of-the-art equipment including:
- A variety of integrated 3D intraoperative microscopes
- A frameless stereotactic unit for intraoperative tumor localization
- Intraoperative cortical mapping
- BRW, CRW and Leksell frame-driven stereotactic systems for stereotactic-guided biopsies and tumor localization
- The surgical endoscope for intraventricular and pituitary tumors
- A variety of intraoperative lasers and the cavitronic ultrasonic aspirator for tumor resection
- Brain and spinal cord electrical monitoring to prevent damage to normal tissue
The frame-based and frameless stereotactic equipment allows tumor biopsies and resections to be performed utilizing smaller, more precise scalp and bone openings than conventional surgery. Functional MRI is routinely utilized in the preoperative planning of surgery to identify eloquent areas of brain that should be preserved during an operative procedure.
Our team features leading experts in treating brain tumors with radiation therapy. They specialize in delivering radiation to the brain and have pioneered many important technological advances in the field. Visit our Radiation Oncology Center to learn more.
Patients receiving radiation therapy may benefit from:
- Standard external beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- The Gamma Knife (radiosurgery)
- Proton Beam Radiation