Brain Tumor Treatments
UT Southwestern offers state-of the-art treatments for patients with all types of brain tumors. We specialize in both benign and malignant tumors.
Our clinicians are experts in precise surgical techniques, radiation therapy/radiosurgery that targets tumors while sparing surrounding tissues, and a variety of medical therapies, including chemotherapy. If your tumor is slow-growing and not causing symptoms, close observation may be the best course of treatment.
At UT Southwestern, we use surgery, radiation therapy/radiosurgery, or, when appropriate, a combination of both to treat:
- Acoustic neuromas
- Brain metastases
- Pediatric brain tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Skull base tumors
When possible, surgery is the first and preferred method to remove a brain tumor. It has several purposes, such as biopsy to establish an accurate diagnosis, removing as much of the tumor as possible as treatment or to relieve symptoms caused by the tumor itself, and to reduce the size of the tumor before treatment with radiation or chemotherapy.
Our neurosurgeons use a variety of surgical techniques including:
- Translabyrinthine approach
- Middle fossa approach
- Retrosigmoid approach
- Total and partial removal
- Advanced microsurgical techniques
- Laser ablation
- Image-guided biopsy
- Brain mapping
- Transnasal procedures
- Craniofacial resection
Stereotactic radiosurgery is the most common form of radiation therapy used to treat brain tumors. UT Southwestern physicians and physicists are recognized as worldwide leaders in these treatments. Despite the name, there is no surgery involved, although it can be performed by a radiation oncologist or a neurosurgeon trained in this technique.
Stereotactic radiosurgery may be used for some tumors in parts of the brain that can’t be treated with surgery or when a patient isn’t healthy enough for surgery. It may also be used after surgery to kill parts of the tumor left behind.
Our stereotactic radiosurgery tools include the Gamma Knife, which uses beams of highly focused gamma rays from hundreds of different angles that converge at the tumor, and the CyberKnife, a linear accelerator mounted on a robotic arm that moves around the head to focus multiple beams of radiation into the tumor.
These two machines use different types of technology to achieve the same result: the accurate delivery of multiple narrow beams of radiation to the tumor with little damage to surrounding tissue.
We have the only Gamma Knife Perfexion in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. It is a highly effective tool because often only one treatment is needed rather than many treatments over several weeks. With Gamma Knife, we are able to reach deep-seated brain lesions and skull base tumors that would be difficult to reach with traditional surgery.
Chemotherapy is occasionally recommended for the treatment of a brain tumor, but it is effective in treating only some types of brain tumors because of the blood-brain barrier that naturally protects the brain. Our neuro-oncologists are skilled at tailoring treatments for individual patients using chemotherapy that is able to reach the brain. It is most often used to treat high-grade gliomas, recurring meningiomas, and sometimes brain metastases.
We can administer chemotherapy orally in pill form or by injection into the vein. For some types of brain cancer, chemotherapy drugs may be given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, either in the brain or spinal column. Our doctors can also deliver chemotherapy directly to the area of the brain tumor at the time of surgical resection.
Many pituitary tumors do not require surgery and can be treated with medical therapy.
Observation of brain tumors occurs throughout their management. Periodically, we will take MRIs and CTs of the tumor site to document any changes in the tumor or surrounding tissue. At the same time, we review your physical condition, symptoms, and medication. We may recommend new or additional treatments based on tumor growth or worsening symptoms.