This year, it is estimated that more than 23,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with primary cancerous brain and spinal cord tumors. Brain tumors can be primary, which start within the brain, or metastatic, which happen when the cells travel from another part of the body.
As it grows, a tumor can press on areas of the brain and prevent it from functioning properly. When faced with this frightening diagnosis, most patients are worried about their prognosis and how it will affect their loved ones.
Even when faced with a daunting diagnosis, patients can find hope in local, world-class treatment. Kettering Health Network’s Brain & Spine team is dedicated to treating the patients using the latest technology advancements and a personalized approach. The goal is to help keep patients more comfortable by having someone available to answer questions and help alleviate fear. The comprehensive approach helps care for the patient and his or her family and loved ones.
Advanced treatment options
“Broadly, treatment includes surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, individually or a combination of these,” explained Aqueel Pabaney, MD, a neurosurgeon with Kettering Health Network. “We have affiliations with major academic centers, and participate in research and clinical trials to have the most advanced treatment options for patients.”
Treatment begins with having a clear picture of the tumor. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging provides the surgeon with more detailed information on certain tumors than MRI alone. From there, more precise procedures can be done.
If radiation is the recommended treatment for the tumor, several options are available, including external beam radiation (EBR) and Gamma Knife. Gamma Knife provides a precise, high-energy concentration of radiation to the tumor within the brain without harming the surrounding tissue. Small tumors might be treated without surgery using this procedure.
In some cases, minimally invasive surgery is used to remove a smaller brain tumor, sometimes through a small incision in the eyebrow. Large, aggressive tumors can be removed using endoscopic surgery, where a light and camera are passed through the nose for skull-based tumor removal.
Some surgeries are performed while patients are awake so the surgeons can talk to them and monitor brain function the whole time. For those situations where the tumor is deep and a minimally invasive approach is best,, laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) may be performed, essentially burning the tumor.
Ongoing support for patient and family
Recognizing that dealing with a brain tumor impacts a patient’s entire family, Kettering Health Network provides complete support throughout the patient experience. Marilyn Reed is a neuroscience nurse specialist and tumor program coordinator at Kettering Medical Center. “When a patient enters the system, we help them navigate the entire process,” she explained.
For the last 11 years, Reed has led the Southwest Ohio Brain Tumor Support Group, which offers patients, families, and loved ones a nurturing environment in which to share their experiences about coping with brain tumors.
The support group meets the second Monday of every month from 7-8:30 p.m. on the ground level of Kettering Medical Center. Occasionally, a guest speaker is featured, and participants can expect insight into treatment, research, and recovery. Call (937) 395-8206 for more information on the support group and its meetings.
If you’d like more information about the advanced treatment options available for brain tumors, visit www.ketteringhealth.org/neuro or call 1-844-211-5482.