Maryann was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumor on December 26th, 2018, and has faced her diagnosis head-on each day since with humor and grace.
Mass General Cancer Center
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114
Support the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology
Your gift helps our team of brain, spine and nerve specialists at the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology provide innovative, personalized treatments for all types of nervous system tumors. Make a gift.
Explore the Neuro-Oncology (Brain Tumors) Treatment Program
We 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.
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:
- Functional MRI
Medical 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 Care
Our 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
Multidisciplinary Patient Care
Our 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:
- Neuro-oncologists design the most appropriate combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and/or targeted therapy for your particular cancer
- Neurosurgeons provide the most advanced surgical techniques to maximize tumor removal and maintain neurologic function
- 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
- Neuroradiologists use the latest imaging methods to evaluate tumors, assist in surgical planning, and monitor the results of treatment
- 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
- Palliative care providers work with your team to address pain and quality-of-life concerns
- 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
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.
Pioneering Radiation Therapies
Our 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
We 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
Pappas Center Brain Donation Program
A brain donation improves our understanding of these tumors and can enable research that leads to treatment innovations. It is also a chance for family and friends to learn more about their loved one's tumor. We appreciate your consideration of this generous gift to research and to future patients.
Meet the Team
Our multidisciplinary group of brain, spine and nerve cancer experts will develop and implement an integrated, care plan personalized to each patient.
- Chief, Neurosurgery Service, Mass General
- William and Elizabeth Sweet Professor of Neurosurgery Harvard Medical School
- Chair, Department of Neurosurgery
- Department of Radiation Oncology
- Executive Director, Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology
- Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
- Director, MGH/DFCI/BWH Neuro-Oncology Fellowship Program
Patient Education & Resources
Genetic counseling for patients w/family history of cancers of the central nervous system.
A checklist of items to bring with you for your first visit and helpful information.
We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups.
- Patient Story
- Jul | 14 | 2017
Anthony has been a patient at the Cancer Center for over 17 years. Anthony’s strong commitment to his wife, Nina, and love for his family has kept him going.
- Patient Story
- Nov | 15 | 2017
Jordan has considered herself a “frequent flyer" here at the Cancer Center. After recently graduating college, Jordan found herself back in Boston once again, this time in pursuit of a career.