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Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas

Center for Neuro-Oncology

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

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:

  • MRI
  • Functional MRI
  • PET/CT


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

Learn more about Mass General Neurosurgery.

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

Our multidisciplinary team 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.

Meet the Team

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 therapy: we have the longest experience in the U.S. in using proton therapy 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 about the Central Nervous System Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Clinical Trials

CAR-T Therapy for Glioblastoma: INCIPIENT Clinical Trial

A research team from the Mass General Cancer Center recently conducted an early-stage trial of a new cell therapy for patients with recurrent glioblastoma. Preliminary results have shown remarkable initial responses among the first patients to receive the novel treatment. Learn more about the trial here and here.

If you are interested in learning more about the INCIPIENT clinical trial, please call 617-724-6226 or email A member of our clinical team will contact you within 48 business hours.

Additional Clinical Trials at Mass General Cancer Center

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

Find clinical trials for brain tumors.

Learn about the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies.


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.




Neuro-Oncology Genetics Program

Neuro-Oncology Genetics Program

Genetic counseling for patients w/family history of cancers of the central nervous system.

Neurofibromatosis (NF) Treatment Program

Neurofibromatosis (NF) Treatment Program

Provides comprehensive care for patients with all types of neurofibromatosis (NF).

Adolescent and Young Adult Program

Adolescent and Young Adult Program

This program addresses the unique needs of patients with cancer ages 15-39.

Supportive Care

Supportive Care

We offer a variety of education and support resources to help you and your family.

Workshops & Support Groups

Workshops & Support Groups

We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups.

Preparing for Your Visit

Preparing for Your Visit

A checklist of items to bring with you for your first visit and helpful information.

Wellness Calendar

Wellness Calendar

See our Wellness and Support Program calendar.

Patient Stories

View real-life stories of individuals with brain tumors who have been treated at Mass General Cancer Center.

Contact the Cancer Center

Contact the Mass General Cancer Center to make an appointment or to learn more about our programs.