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Brain Cancer Treatment and Support

At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary approach to treatment and care includes advanced techniques and technology, as well as a caring team to support you through your cancer journey. 

How Is Brain Cancer Treated?

Your treatment options depend on many factors, including the location, size, type and grade of the tumor as well as the research evidence to support different approaches. In choosing your treatment plan, your cancer care team will also consider your personal needs and overall health and wellness goals.


In many cases, surgery is one of the first steps in diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer but often depends on the suspected tumor type, tumor location, and health of the patient. The most common operation is a craniotomy, which involves opening the skull to access the tumor. Brain cancer surgery requires a high degree of experience and expertise. The neurosurgeons at Banner MD Anderson are leaders in their field and perform advanced brain surgery techniques.


While chemotherapies are commonly used to treat most cancer types, many do not cross the blood brain barrier. Therefore, the chemotherapies used to treat brain cancer must be well researched and designed to gain access into the brain. Our teams work closely with our molecular pathology providers to design individualized treatment plans that are compassionate and effective. Some chemotherapies can be delivered directly into the brain fluid (called intrathecal delivery) in the case of cancers that metastasize to that location.

Device-Based Therapy (Optune, Tumor Treating Fields)

Tumor treating fields (TTFields) is a portable device that allows for removable sticky electrodes to be placed on the scalp of patients with a specific high-grade brain tumor. This device has mild side effects (skin irritation is the most common) and has been demonstrated to extend overall survival of patients with specific high-grade brain tumors. Patients are carefully selected for use of this device as some cancer types and grades do not qualify for use. 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or particles to kill cancer cells. New radiation therapy techniques allow Banner MD Anderson doctors to target brain cancer tumors more precisely, providing the greatest amount of radiation to cancerous cells and less damage to healthy cells. It may be used to slow or stop the growth of tumors that cannot be surgically removed. It can also be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments.

Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a neurosurgical procedure that involves insertion of a laser catheter into the tumor and heats it to temperatures high enough to kill the tumor. This treatment is minimally invasive, often requiring only a 2-millimeter incision in the scalp and takes just a few minutes to perform. Most patients can go home the day after treatment and can quickly return to normal activities.

Targeted Therapies

Innovative targeted therapies are drugs designed to treat each cancer’s specific genetic and molecular profile to help your body fight the disease without causing much damage to healthy cells.  Targeted therapies can block or activate specific enzymes, proteins or other molecules that contribute to the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other types of targeted therapies, called immunotherapies, empower your own immune system to recognize cancer cells as harmful and destroy them. Many of the doctors who treat cancer at Banner MD Anderson are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials with novel targeted agents.

Important Brain Cancer Treatment Considerations

It’s important to discuss all treatment options, including possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. Deciding on a course of treatment for brain cancer is challenging and you should take time to ask your multidisciplinary cancer care team at Banner MD Anderson any questions you may have. We are here to treat your cancer and ensure you feel supported throughout your care.

Important considerations include: 

  • Patient Goals and Values - Considering what makes a good quality of life and what health care boundaries or barriers each patient might carry based on religious, personal-identity, social or other specified reasons is of the utmost importance to our teams. This is always included as part of the initial consultation discussion. 
  • Women’s and Reproductive Health - Considering how cancer and cancer treatment might impact women’s health and patient’s reproductive health is of high importance. These conversations help to inform patients and their loved ones about the risks and potential side-effects of cancer treatment. In addition, it is a way to honor the patient’s goals for maintaining fertility, current and future reproductive plans and identifies any hormonal influences or risks that might be important to cancer care and clinical decision-making.
  • Social Support System and Social Needs - Considering what social or financial barriers that might exist to the delivery of quality care to our patients is a priority. Our teams include case managers and social workers as a critical part of the care plan, and each new patient is screened for needs for resources and services here at Banner MD Anderson. 
  • Caregiver Reported Outcomes - Considering the input and wellness of an identified caregiver or certain loved ones involved in the care of our patients is another top priority in cancer care delivery. We believe that the ideas, concerns, questions, feedback, and clinical opinions and assessments by the caregivers should never be overlooked as they often point our teams in the right direction for taking the best care of their loved ones.     

What Type of Support Is Offered for Brain Cancer Treatment?

Banner MD Anderson takes a holistic and caring approach in supporting your mind, body and spirit during your brain cancer treatment. Our multidisciplinary staff of physicians, nurses, social workers, case managers, clinical navigators and other essential support staff will work together to address your physical, nutritional and mental health needs during this challenging time. Learn more about our comprehensive and supportive cancer care

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