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Brain and Spinal Cancer

Baystate Regional Cancer Program experts are constantly exploring new and better ways to treat brain and spinal cancers.

Brain and spinal cancers encompass a wide range of tumors, including those in the:

  • Brain
  • Pituitary gland
  • Skull base
  • Spine

Finding out you have one of these cancers can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that depending on the type of tumor and its location, these types of cancer can be treated successfully.

Our neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists, and radiation oncologists are all focused on your complete recovery. We use the latest surgical and medical techniques, collaborating with you every step of the way during your journey toward healing.


There is no blood test or other screening exam that can detect a brain or spinal tumor. Because these types of tumors may affect other body functions, you may experience symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Changes in vision, hearing, or sensation
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • A change in mood or personality
  • Memory loss

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, let your doctor know right away. Working together with our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, oncologists, and radiation oncologists, we can assess your symptoms and determine your diagnosis quickly, so you can move on to treatment.

Diagnostic tests may include:

  • A physical exam to determine your overall health
  • A neurologic exam to evaluate brain and spinal cord function
  • Advanced imaging, including CT, MRI, or PET scans to look for signs of a tumor
  • 3D views of the tumor for surgical accuracy
  • Biopsy, or collection of tissue at the site of a detected tumor, to determine an exact diagnosis
  • Lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, to see if tumor cells are present in cerebrospinal fluid


Your specific treatment will depend on the type of tumor you have; its location, size, and grade (level of abnormal cells); as well as your age, medical history, and overall health.

Our team of brain and spinal cancer specialists provides the best care for all types of brain and spinal tumors. We offer the latest treatment options and safe, effective techniques, including:

Minimally Invasive Surgery

A safe and effective approach resulting in:

  • Faster healing
  • Less pain
  • Shorter recovery times

Computer-Guided Surgery

A procedure allowing surgeons to localize tumors accurately before making an incision, resulting in:

  • Less recovery time
  • Less trauma to the brain
  • Smaller incisions

Radiation Therapy

Energy particles or waves control tumor growth and relieve symptoms by damaging the cells’ ability to multiply. Healthy cells near the tumor may be affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way tumor cells cannot.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

A type of highly focused radiation therapy performed by our radiation oncologists and medical physicists to target tumors that would have previously required surgery, without any incision.

Drug Therapy

Drug therapy may include chemotherapy or drugs that make it easier for radiation therapy to shrink tumor size.

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