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Neuro-Oncology

Neuro-oncology is the medical specialty treating tumors of the nervous system. Most of these tumors are malignant tumors of the brain, but many are benign and can occur in the spinal cord, spinal fluid or other structures surrounding the nervous system leading to symptoms related to the nervous system. Neuro-oncologists treat patients with primary brain tumors, metastases to the brain, spinal cord, or spinal fluid, as well as neurological complications of cancers and their treatments. Such complications can include seizures, cerebral edema, strokes, and peripheral nerve disorders.

Texas Oncology-Austin Brain Tumor Center is a specialized practice focused on treating cancer patients with brain tumors.

Austin Brain Tumor Center

Welcome to Texas Oncology-Austin Brain Tumor Center. Our highly experienced physicians and medical professionals provide patients with advanced, patient-friendly treatment and cancer care. Patients treated at Texas Oncology-Austin Brain Tumor Center benefit from our experienced team, leading-edge medical services and treatment options, advanced technologies, and innovative research programs that offer new technologies, new treatment options and the latest novel clinical trials for patients.

Contact our office to learn more about Texas Oncology-Austin Brain Tumor Center at:

Texas Oncology-Austin Midtown
901 W. 38th Street, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78705
T: 512-421-4100

Types of Brain Tumors

There are two major categories of brain tumors: primary brain tumors, which start in the brain and rarely spread outside of the nervous system, and metastatic brain tumors, which develop in other parts of the body (for example, breast, lung, skin) and spread to the brain. Metastatic tumors are the most commonly occurring brain tumors with an incidence rate 10 times greater than primary brain tumors.

Gliomas are the most common class of primary brain tumor and are formed from the glial cells that provide structural support for the neurons (neurons are the thinking cells in the brain). The more common gliomas include:

  • Astrocytomas are the most common type of glioma and are graded I, II, III, or IV. The most common and most aggressive form is grade IV astrocytoma, also known as glioblastoma, or GBM. All forms of astrocytoma can develop anywhere in the central nervous system.
  • Ependymomas develop in the hollow cavities of the brain or in the spinal cord and are often benign and slow-growing.
  • Oligodendrogliomas originate from the cells, the oligodendrocytes or their precursors, that provide support (insulation) for the connection “wires” between neurons.
  • There are also many types of non-glial brain tumors; however, most are rare.
  • Meningiomas grow from one of the membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord and are usually slow-growing and benign. Anaplastic (malignant) meningiomas are less common (1-3% of meningiomas) but grow more quickly.

Tumor Profiling

While tumor tissue biopsy and examining the tumor’s appearance under a microscope are still the standard of care for diagnosing and naming brain tumors, deeper knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of a tumor’s DNA can help direct treatments and improve outcomes. To better define a tumor’s behavior and for choosing possible targets for therapy, physicians now profile most patients’ tumor’s DNA to identify the driver mutations. Even among patients with the same type of cancer, the behavior of the cancer and its response to treatment can vary widely based on these genetic changes.

It is increasingly clear that specific characteristics of cancer cells and cancer patients can have a profound impact on prognosis and treatment outcome. Targeted therapies are based on the type of tumor and its genomic profile. Although factoring these characteristics into treatment decisions makes cancer care more complex, it also offers the promise of improved outcomes. Targeted therapies for each tumor lead to better outcomes through personalized medicine.

Treating Brain Tumors

Treatment for brain tumors is determined by many factors, including tumor type; grade; size and location in the brain; whether it’s newly diagnosed or a recurrence; the tumor’s specific genetic makeup; and your overall health.  The potential benefits of a singular or combination of treatments or participation in a clinical trial must be carefully balanced with the potential risks.

Neurosurgery

Surgery is an important treatment for most brain tumors. This is especially true if located within the membranes covering the brain or in an area where removal would not damage the surrounding areas. Even if the entire tumor cannot be removed, surgery can sometimes relieve symptoms caused by pressure from the tumor or its accompanying swelling. Many benign tumors can be effectively treated by surgery alone.

Malignant tumors require treatment after surgery, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, electrical field therapy, or targeted drug therapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is often used to treat brain cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy to treat primary or metastatic brain tumors.

  • External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) uses high-energy X-ray beams (photons) delivered by a linear accelerator and aimed at specific points within the nervous system.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) uses a computer-guided therapy system to treat tumors and other abnormalities of the brain. This is a non-surgical procedure that delivers precisely-targeted radiation at much higher doses than traditional radiation therapy with the aim of minimizing any damage to normal brain.
  • Proton Beam Radiation delivers high-energy proton beams directly to tumors with pinpoint precision, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Clinical Trials

Texas Oncology–Austin Brain Tumor Center patients have access to newly developed cancer treatments and the latest investigational drugs through participation in innovative clinical trials in all phases of development. These new treatments may result in shrinking the tumor or alleviating symptoms. We are a member of the NCI/Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative, which gives our patients access to additional national, leading-edge trials. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, research our open clinical trials and talk to your doctor to determine if a trial is right for you.

Coordinated Care

Neuro-oncologists coordinate the care of their patients with other specialists, including neurosurgeons, neurologists, endocrinologists, and radiation and medical oncologists. The neuro-oncologist has a broad knowledge of their patient, the diseases, and available treatment options. Due to the complexity of brain tumors, frequent communication and collaboration within the treatment team is essential. The Texas Oncology–Austin Brain Tumor Center works with your local oncologist to determine the most effective treatment for your specific needs. However, some consultation and treatment will occur in Austin. We offer assistance with hotel and transportation arrangements, making it easier to seek care out of town.

Telemedicine

Our Telemedicine capability provides patients and their local medical oncologist with ready-access to brain tumor experts remotely, over the phone, computer, or through video conferencing. Through this seamless interaction, Texas Oncology–Austin Brain Tumor Center physicians review and initiate plans of care; evaluate neuro-imaging; manage symptoms; and integrate care with neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and supportive care. Patients all over the state have access to expertise and newer experimental treatment options, while saving time and expense by limiting travel to a distant treatment facility. Telemedicine can improve clinical outcomes, give patients and their families the reassurance of experienced, specialized care, and allow patients to stay near their community of support. Learn more about Telemedicine.

Helpful Resources

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