How We Treat Brain and Spinal Tumors

If you have a brain or spinal tumor, we'll design a treatment plan that is targeted toward your specific diagnosis and needs, and may include multiple forms of therapy. These include:


Surgical Treatments

  • Brain and spinal tumor surgery: Our neurosurgeons have exceptional experience removing brain and spinal tumors, always working to remove cancerous tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue and function as possible. To achieve this, we use advanced techniques such as stereotaxis, neuroendoscopy, awake brain mapping, and electrophysiological methods to "map" the tumor's location in the brain, maximizing tumor removal while minimizing risk.
  • Minimally invasive treatment: We pioneered surgery for tumors at the base of the skull, an area that in the past has been considered inoperable. Our team includes world leaders in skull base surgery using endoscopes passed through the nostrils to remove pituitary tumors, chordomas, and other skull base tumors. Our surgical leaders also train other surgeons who come from around the world to learn these innovative techniques.
  • Advanced operating room technologies: We project MRI or CT images in the operating room to provide our surgeons with a "map" as they operate, enhancing safety and allowing for more complete tumor removal. We also continuously monitor the electrical activity of the brain and spinal cord during surgery to reduce the risk of harming vital functions such as movement and sensation.


Radiation Therapy

We use highly precise, targeted radiation therapy to zero in on a tumor while sparing as much nearby healthy tissue as possible. Examples include:

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery:  NewYork-Presbyterian now offers "frameless" stereotactic radiosurgery using the ExacTrac® system. This innovative treatment allows for more precise, high-dose radiation treatment to tumors without restricting the patient's position with an immobile frame. The novel image-guided technology features a monitoring system that provides miniature images during the course of treatment to track patient movement and enable the machine to reposition its beams to the tumor, sparing radiation exposure to healthy tissue. Other forms of stereotactic radiosurgery we offer include the Brainlab iX and Gamma Knife.
  • External beam radiation therapy, delivered using the latest linear accelerator models.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, a precisely focused form of treatment which shapes radiation beams of different intensities to treat a tumor in a highly effective way.
  • Brachytherapy, the implantation of cancer-killing radioactive substances.


Investigational Treatments And Chemotherapy

  • Clinical trials: We are leading and participating in clinical trials of new therapies and developing new ways to deliver anticancer drugs to brain cancers more directly and effectively. We pioneered "convection-enhanced delivery," which we use to give highly concentrated anticancer drugs through a catheter (flexible tube) directly to tumors such as gliomas. We are also performing cutting edge genomic sequencing and molecular analyses of patients’ brain tumors for the sake of individualized patient-specific treatments.  Additionally, we have discovered a highly innovative method for growing a patient’s own brain tumor in the laboratory in a genetic replica of the patient’s own normal brain to allow highly selective and personalized screening for effective drugs against the patient own tumor. Finally, our researchers are assessing other investigational therapies, such as targeted therapies and treatments which harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer.