If you have a patient dealing with a diagnosis of central nervous system (CNS) cancer, our multidisciplinary team of CNS specialists at West Cancer Center is here to surround you with the latest treatments and technology to design a personalized treatment plan specific for this disease. Our goal is to also provide resources and information to better help your patient understand and manage CNS cancer.

What is Brain Cancer?

Brain tumors are abnormal growth cells in the brain. Although such growths are popularly called brain tumors, not all brain tumors are cancerous. Cancer is a term specifically reserved for malignant tumors. Malignant tumors can grow and spread aggressively, overpowering healthy cells. They can spread throughout the body. Tumors that do not spread to invade nearby tissue are called benign.

Some brain cancers occur when one type of cell transforms from its normal characteristics. Once transformed, the cells grow and multiply in abnormal ways. As these abnormal cells grow, they become a mass, or tumor.

Primary brain tumors are tumors that start, or originate, in the brain. The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, and primitive neuroelectrical tumors (medulloblastomas). The term “glioma” includes glioblastomas, astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas. Most of these are named after the part of the brain or the type of brain cell from which these abnormal cells originate.

Stages of Brain Cancer

“Staging” is a method to assess and describe the spread of cancer beyond the site of origin. It is very rare for brain cancer to spread outside of the brain; therefore, we use a different system to describe these cancers, called “Grading”.

The grading depends on characteristics of the cancer studied by the pathologists through microscopy and other conventional testing.

Grade I means the cancer cells look almost normal and they grow very slow. Most people with Grade I can live a long time.

Grade II means the cancer cells look somewhat abnormal and grow slowly, but can invade normal tissue. Sometimes, they return after treatment as a higher grade.

Grade III means the cancer cells don’t look like normal cells and quickly increase in number.

Grade IV means the cancer cells don’t look like normal cells and grow very quickly.

 

Source: NCCN Patient Guidelines-Brain Cancer  Version 1, 2016

Symptoms of Brain Cancer

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to speak to your provider as soon as possible for further examination.

  • Difficulty with balance
  • Confusion
  • New pattern of headaches
  • Increased intensity of headaches
  • Unexplained vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision problems
  • Speech difficulties
  • Gradual loss of sensation in leg or arm

How to Diagnose Brain Cancer

If your provider would like to further investigate the possibility of a brain tumor, one or more of the following diagnostic procedures may be performed:

BIOPSY

A sample of tissue is removed for examination to determine the diagnosis of a suspected mass.

CT SCAN

A “computed tomography scan” makes use of computer-processed combinations of many x-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce cross-sectional images of specific areas of a scanned object, allowing the provider to see inside the body without surgery.

PET

“Positron-emission tomography” is a nuclear medicine functional imaging technique that is used to observe metabolic processes in the body as an aid to the diagnosis of a disease.

MRI

“Magnetic resonance imaging” is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves to generate images of the organs in the body.

NEUROLOGICAL EXAM

The assessment of sensory neuron and motor responses, especially reflexes,is used to determine whether the nervous system is impaired. This typically includes a physical examination and a review of your medical history.

Types of Brain Cancer Treatments

Your brain cancer treatment plan will vary depending on multiple factors including, but not limited to, your stage of diagnosis, as well as the location of your cancer. Your dedicated team of cancer experts will discuss your treatment options and plan with you, allowing you and your loved ones to consider all possible treatment options for your diagnosis.

CHEMOTHERAPY

Chemotherapy is medication that destroys cells that are growing and dividing. Cancer cells grow by dividing, and they grow faster than normal cells. However, normal cells also grow and divide, so chemotherapy affects both normal and cancerous cells.It may be given alone or in combination with surgery, radiation therapy, or both. If you do not receive chemotherapy before surgery, chemotherapy may be given to destroy any microscopic tumor cells that remain after you have recovered from surgery. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the individual and the dose used, but can include fatigue, risk of infection, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. These side effects usually go away after treatment is complete.

CLINICAL TRIALS

A clinical trial is a research study designed to evaluate potential new treatment options. West Cancer Center is a proud partner in the field of research regarding cancer treatments. We host a variety of clinical trials and welcome any conversation about your eligibility to participate in a trial for your specific cancer. Talk to your provider or visit our website here to learn more about brain cancer clinical trials available right now.

OPTUNE® TTFIELD THERAPY

Optune creates Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) to slow or stop GBM( Glioblastoma)cells from dividing and may also destroy some of them. Optune works differently from surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. The TTFields created by Optune can slow or even stop GBM tumor cells from growing and dividing.

To learn more: https://www.optune.com/

RADIATION THERAPY

Radiation therapy is the use of high x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be done before surgery to shrink the tumor so that it may be more easily removed. Radiation therapy may also be done after surgery to remove any cancer cells left behind. Radiation treatment may make it possible to do less surgery, often preserving critical structures in the arm or leg if the sarcoma is located in a limb.

STEREOTACTIC RADIOSURGERY (SRS)

Stereotactic radiosurgery uses multiple high-dose radiation beams to precisely treat tumors in the brain using 3D imaging with less radiation to minimize damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.

SURGERY

Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. Your surgeon’s goal is to remove the tumor and enough normal tissue surrounding it to obtain a clean margin around the tumor. A “clean margin” means there are no tumor cells visible at the borders of the surgical specimen. This is currently the best method available to ensure that there are no tumor cells left in the area from which the tumor was removed.

TARGETED DRUG THERAPY

Targeted therapy is a cancer treatment that works by targeting specific genes or proteins to help stop cancer from growing and spreading. These genes and proteins are found in cancer cells or in cells related to cancer growth, like blood vessels. It may seem simple to use a drug that works specifically to your type of cancer, but targeted therapy is very complex. It is important to remember that a tumor may not always respond to a drug – each person and each tumor is different. Most people may also need surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy. Researchers are always in the process of developing more targeted drugs and West Cancer Center is at the forefront of research, targeted therapies, and clinical trials.

Our Team

Laura Landrieu, MD

Breast Radiologist

Katie Wright, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNOR, RNFA

Advanced Practice Provider

Jason Porter, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Yuefeng Wang, MD, PhD

Radiation Oncologist

Alex Ryder, MD, PhD

Pathologist

Michael Ulm, MD, MS, FACOG

Gynecologic Oncologist

Laura Leigh Smith, OTR

Occupational Therapist

Amber Wade, PA-C

Advanced Practice Provider

Kimberly Gaten, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Tiffany Bennett, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Nour Haddad, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Parrish Throckmorton, PT

Physical Therapist

Deanne Wade, PT

Physical Therapist

Courtney Susser, MSN, FNP-C

Advanced Practice Provider

Donna Thomas, PT

Physical Therapist

Tricia Harris, SLP

Senior Speech - Language Pathologist

Anita Vincent, RDN, CSO, LDN

Kathryn Wright, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Amber Wade, PA

Advanced Practice Provider

Tiffany Thompson, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Tiffany Kinard, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Amy Harkness, PA

Advanced Practice Provider

Nour Haddad, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Kim Gaten, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Emily Dunaway, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Annette Caple, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Courtney Susser, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Ellen Wills, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Brittany Mezquita, APRN, FNP-C

Advanced Practice Provider

Tracie Abel, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Lauren Albertine, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Allen Ardestani, MD, PhD

Neuroradiologist

Anita Arnold, MD, FACP

Oncological Internist

Katherine Arnold, PA-C

Advanced Practice Provider

Sheila Ayers, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Matthew Ballo, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Adrian Banks, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Ramakrishna Battini, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Scott Baum, MD

Radiologist

Sonia Benn, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Michael Berry, MD

Breast Surgeon, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center

Stephen A. Besh, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Angela Brady, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Anna Brown, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Jason Chandler, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Brandi Crowe, PA

Advanced Practice Provider

Kendra Dean, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Rachel Doerr, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Nilesh Dubal, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Ashley Dowdy, PA-C

Advanced Practice Provider, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center

Nichole Edwards, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Adam C. ElNaggar, MD

Gynecologic Oncologist

Michael Farmer, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Moon J. Fenton, MD, PhD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Richard E. Fine, MD, FACS

Breast Surgeon, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center

Phyllis Fiveash, NP

Advanced Practice Provider, Regional Oncologist

Roneferiti Fowler, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Monica Fukala, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Axel Grothey, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Heather Greene, MSN, FNP, AOCNP

Advanced Practice Provider

LaTonya Hardy, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Kristen Hayes, NP

Advanced Practice Provider, High Risk Breast, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center

Dani Herron, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Emily Hoffman, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Holger Gieschen, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Melanie Jenkins, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

W. Clay Jackson, MD, DipTh

Palliative Care Physician

Robert A. Johnson, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Bethany Kelley, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

William A. Lankford, MD

Radiologist

Michael Levinson, MD

Gastroenterologist

Lindsay Lipe, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Aimee Martin, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor

Michael G. Martin, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Carrie McKiernon, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Micah Monaghan, MD

Radiation Oncologist

S. Sameer Nasir, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Suhail Obaji, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Roy M. Oswaks, MD

Breast Surgeon, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center

Arnel M. Pallera, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Manjari Pandey, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Chandni Patel, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Katie Parker, NP

Palliative Care

Janice Pazar, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Mary Nell Phillips, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

David C. Portnoy, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Daniel K. Powell, MD

Lisa Rader, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Arun R. Rao, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Thomas Ratliff, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Jarvis D. Reed, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Mark Reed, MD, FACOG

Gynecologic Oncologist

Sylvia S. Richey, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Lillian Rinker, MD

Radiation Oncologist

David B. Robins, MD

Pathologist

Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Angela Scott, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Loretta Shamley, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Courtney Shires, MD

Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist

Linda Smiley, MD, FACOG

Gynecologic Oncologist

Bradley G. Somer, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Anna Smith, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Todd F. Stockstill, MD

Radiation Oncologist

Kurt W. Tauer, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

G. Gary Tian, MD, PhD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Lan Tran, PA

Advanced Practice Provider

Todd Tillmanns, MD, FACOG

Gynecologic Oncologist

Ruby Turner, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Patricia Turner, MD

Breast Radiologist, Margaret West Comprehensive Breast Center, Radiologist

Ari VanderWalde, MD, MPH, MBioeth

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Daniel Vaena, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Noam VanderWalde, MD, MS

Radiation Oncologist

Katie Vaughn Wells, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

Carmel Verrier, MD, PhD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Gregory Vidal, MD, PhD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Kandice Walker, NP

Advanced Practice Provider

A. Earle Weeks, MD

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Alva B. Weir, III, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Eric Wiedower, DO

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Benton M. Wheeler, MD, FACP

Hematologist/Medical Oncologist

Elizabeth Wheeler Ott, PA

Advanced Practice Provider
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