Brain Tumors & Neuro-Oncology
No one is ready to hear they have a tumor. Brain and spinal tumors can feel especially overwhelming. We know you’re experiencing a wide range of emotions. Help is here. We’ll get the most accurate diagnosis possible. Then, we’ll work with you to determine the best plan of attack.
Diagnosing Brain Tumors
The first step is to understand the types of cells that make up your tumor and then pinpoint its exact location on your brain or spine.
Our neuroimaging department offers state-of-the-art imaging technologies such as 3T MRI and a 128 slice CT scanner. The diagnostic accuracy of 3T MRI makes it the gold standard for many neurological exams. Your scans will be reviewed by a neuroradiologist who specializes in brain and spine imaging and diagnostics.
After a brain scan, we may perform a biopsy to take a tissue sample from the tumor. These tests help understand the nature of your tumor. If it’s cancerous, we can determine what kind of cancer cell and plan the most effective treatment possible.
Tumor symptoms can vary by type, location, and growth rate. Generally, the most common symptom is pain at the tumor site combined with neurological problems, like confusion or poor coordination. Other common symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, seizures.
If you have symptoms that might indicate a brain or spinal tumor, you should be evaluated by a neurologist. In addition to a physical and neurological exam, your doctor may recommend an MRI or CT scan.
A tumor is an uncontrolled growth of cells. These can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). While benign tumors do not invade nearby cells, they may still cause serious symptoms as the tumors grow and press on vital areas.
Some treatment options at Aurora BayCare:
- Access to clinical trials
- Cyberknife and Gamma Knife radiosurgery
- Image guided brain surgery
- Minimally invasive brain surgery
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
Surgical removal is often recommended. Brain tumors can be easier to remove if their blood supply is reduced prior to surgery. A catheter-based procedure can be used to block the blood vessels that supply blood flow to a tumor. Known as “tumor embolization,” this makes surgical removal faster and safer.
Radiation therapy is used to treat tumors that cannot be accessed by surgery. The radiation does not remove the tumor but can shrink it until it’s eliminated. Radiation is a non-invasive treatment option that can be as effective as surgery.
If your tumor is cancerous, you’ll work with the Neurologic Cancer team. Aurora BayCare uses a team approach for neurological cancers. Cases are reviewed by brain and spine cancer experts, including a neuro-oncologist, interventional radiologists, neurosurgeons, pathologists, and a genetic counselor.
These experts gather for regular tumor boards to review patient cases. They’ll discuss treatment approaches and partner with you to develop a care plan. Chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, radiation, and electric field therapy may also be used to treat cancerous tumors.
Aurora BayCare works with the National Cancer Institute to offer you the opportunity to participate in cancer clinical trials. Talk to your doctor to find out if a clinical trial might be right for you.
If you’re diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, you’ll need an expert team behind you. At Aurora BayCare, we provide numerous support services to help you through this challenge.
A Cancer Nurse Navigator will help coordinate appointments and connect you to the specialists you need. You may also work with an oncology dietician or an integrative medicine specialist to help you maintain your strength and spirits. And our palliative care team is ready to meet with you, as soon as you are diagnosed, to help you manage symptoms and address other care needs.
Our team will pay attention to the details of your cancer treatment as well as the emotional and mental toll a cancer diagnosis has on you and your family.
You can be sure that the neuro care you receive here is some of the best. From leading-edge diagnostic tools, to advanced surgical technology, and fellowship trained neurosurgeons, you can trust our team of experts with this complex condition.
We have the region’s largest interventional neurology team. And, we're the first and only hospital in Northeastern Wisconsin to offer continuous neurointerventional coverage to meet the needs of our patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.