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In Treatment for a Rare Brain or Spine Tumor

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Treatment for your brain or spine tumor will depend on your tumor type and location, and your general health.


If possible, you will have surgery to treat brain or spine tumors and help relieve symptoms. Surgery removes as much of the tumor as possible while not damaging healthy tissue. It is most successful when performed by a neurosurgeon with expertise treating your tumor type. Your neuro-oncologist and healthcare team will work with you and your loved ones to create a treatment plan just for you and help coordinate your care.

If you have a brain or spine tumor, you should be under the care of a neuro-oncologist. A neuro-oncologist is specially trained to treat patients with central nervous system (CNS) tumors. If you are being seen by an oncologist or primary care doctor, ask for a referral to a neuro-oncologist for a second opinion or for treatment.

Further Treatment

After surgery or if you don’t have surgery, you may have other treatments depending on your tumor type and grade. Low grade tumors (grade 1 and 2, also written as grade I and II) may be completely removed with surgery but may require radiation and/or chemotherapy. High grade tumors (grade 3 and 4, also written as grade III and IV) are more difficult to remove and require additional treatments such as radiation and/or chemotherapy. You may also choose to join a clinical trial to test new treatments.

Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. Clinical trials provide doctors the opportunity to learn about new therapies that could be successful to treat your tumor. NCI-CONNECT has clinical trials you can take part in at the NIH.

During treatment you may have physical or cognitive changes that greatly affect your quality of life. This can be challenging for you and your loved ones. Keep a dairy of your treatment symptoms and talk to your doctor about them. Your doctor may change your treatment plan so you can continue to live fully.

We understand making treatment decisions can be overwhelming and symptoms and side effects can take a toll on both your body and your feelings. Use these resources to help you make the best decisions for your care, treatment, and quality of life.

How to Determine the Best Treatment for Brain Tumor Patients

Guiding Questions

It is important to the success of your treatment to find a doctor that has experience treating your tumor type. And given brain and spine tumors are rare, there are few centers that have doctors with that level of expertise. Use our network of healthcare professionals to find an experienced doctor near you and get a second opinion.

Treatment Resources

Coping and Support Resources

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