Treatment Programs

Neuro-Oncology (Brain Tumors)

The Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology offers the most advanced care for patients with brain tumors and nervous system tumors.

Our multidisciplinary team of brain, spine and nerve tumor specialists provides innovative, individually tailored treatments for all types of central nervous system tumors, from the most common to the extremely rare. This includes low-grade and malignant glioma, glioblastoma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma, metastatic tumors, pituitary adenoma, and cranial base tumors.

Innovative ApproachesWe offer the full spectrum of conventional care as well as promising new therapies. We perform the highest volume of acoustic neuroma procedures in New England, and are leaders in glioblastomas, gliomas, meningioma, pituitary adenoma and other common and complex surgical procedures. We are also home to the Cranial Base Program, which focuses on treating tumors of the cranial base, the junction between the brain and the face and neck.

Multidisciplinary Patient CareOur multidisciplinary group of brain, spine and nerve cancer experts will develop and implement an integrated, care plan personalized to each patient. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of a patient’s cancer, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these therapies. Many clinical trials are also offered through our program. 

Your treatment team may include:

  • Neuropathologists evaluate all tumor samples to provide precise diagnostic information, including any biomarkers that can help your team design the best treatment plan for you
  • Neuroradiologists use the latest imaging methods to evaluate tumors, assist in surgical planning, and monitor the results of treatment
  • Neurosurgeons provide the most advanced surgical techniques to maximize tumor removal and maintain neurologic function
  • Neuro-oncologists design the most appropriate combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or targeted therapy for your particular cancer
  • Radiation oncologists offer innovative radiation therapy techniques customized to your individual needs and designed to deliver the most therapeutic radiation to the cancer while preserving normal nearby tissue.
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners bring special expertise in cancer care
  • Oncology psychiatrists, social workers, and chaplains provide family, spiritual, emotional, and mental health support
  • Oncology nutritionists help with dietary issues to enhance your health and well-being during treatment
  • Palliative care providers work with your team to address pain and quality-of-life concerns

Your team will develop and implement an integrated, personalized care plan for you. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your cancer, the treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these therapies. Members of your care team meet regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure clear communication and seamless coordination of care.

Brain Tumor Treatment – Center for Neuro-Oncology at Mass General Hospital

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancer

Our neuropathologists are sub-specialized in identifying brain, spine and nerve tumors. This expertise leads to more accurate diagnosis and staging, which forms the basis for your treatment. They use conventional tumor analysis techniques, as well as molecular techniques that may uncover tumor markers to guide patient therapy.

Advanced imaging technologies help define the size and shape of the tumor, identify important normal tissue nearby, and aid in removal of the tumor while protecting normal tissue. These include:

  • MRI
  • Functional MRI
  • PET/CT

Neuro-OncologyMedical therapy may include:

  • Chemotherapy, including both new and standard medications
  • Immunotherapy, a personalized vaccine created with a patient’s own tumor cells to stimulate a tumor-specific response
  • Angiogenesis inhibitors, new drugs that mount a two-fold attack on tumors, halting the growth of disorganized blood vessels and normalizing them, which makes it easier for other therapies to reach their target
  • Targeted therapies, designed to attack specific molecular abnormalities in the tumor

Excellence in Surgical CareOur surgeons have extensive experience treating brain tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding structures. Advanced surgical techniques include:

  • Image-guided neurosurgery
  • Intraoperative MRI and CT imaging
  • Brachytherapy, radiotherapy implants placed at tumor margins to enhance tumor destruction
  • Microsurgery, operating on tiny structures through a microscope, often used for cranial base tumors
  • Endoscopic cranial base surgery, a noninvasive way to remove tumors through natural openings such as the nasal passages

Pioneering Radiation TherapiesOur radiation oncologists offer a range of therapies designed to shrink or destroy tumors while protecting normal tissue. Advanced technologies include:

  • Proton beam therapy: we have the longest experience in the U.S. in using protons to treat brain tumors
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), converging beams that focus a large dose of radiation on the tumor, which we also offer with proton therapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), advanced computer-generated radiation beam configurations
  • 3-D conformal radiation, beams of radiation configured to match the contours of the tumor

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Treating Cancer through Clinical TrialsWe offer an extensive array of clinical trials with a focus on new therapies for many types of brain tumors including glioblastoma. Some promising areas of our clinical and laboratory research include:

  • Genetic variations in brain tumors
  • New therapeutic agents
  • New ways to assess the effects of therapy
  • Enhancing sensitivity to chemotherapy

View all open clinical trials for brain, spine and nerve tumors. 

Brain Tumors

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself, or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain (metastasize). Brain tumors may be classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on their behavior.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Supporting brain cancer research

MGH Hotline 12.10.10 When her father John was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in June 2009, 10-year-old Elana Sargent wanted to find a way to help.

In General awards and honors 1.28.11

MGH Hotline 1.28.11 In General

MGH Russell Museum Lunchtime Lecture Series

Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation invites you to attend its latest lecture in its lunchtime series

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration 2011 II HD

Neurology Bicentennial Celebration, October 13, 2011. Clinical and research presentations on Huntington’s Disease, Epilepsy, and Neuro-Oncology.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

Award-winning medical care

Massachusetts General Hospital is recognized as a leader in patient care, education and research, ranking among the most prestigious medical institutions.