The time between the onset of symptoms and the discovery and treatment of a brain tumor is often very short. This can leave those with brain tumors and their families feeling frightened and overwhelmed. Our specialty-trained, interdisciplinary team strives to provide you with confidence and optimism through world-class care.
The University of Kansas Health System provides comprehensive treatment for cancerous and noncancerous brain tumors. It is our goal to achieve maximum tumor removal for the most successful symptom control and the highest rates of survival.
Download our brain tumor guide
It can be scary and overwhelming to learn you or a loved one may have a brain tumor. Our experts are here to support you every step of the way. Download our free brain tumor care guide for information on the most advanced treatments and the region’s largest specialized team.
What is a brain tumor?
A tumor is a growing mass of abnormal cells. A brain tumor occurs when this mass develops within the brain. Primary brain tumors are those that originate in the brain. Others metastasize, or spread, to the brain from elsewhere in the body.
Gliomas account for the majority of primary brain and spine cancer in adults, while meningiomas make up the majority of noncancerous tumors. Some meningiomas can behave like malignant tumors, and some gliomas can be treated effectively and remain in remission for many years, if not cured.
Brain tumor symptoms and risks
It is rare for someone without symptoms to be diagnosed with a brain or spinal tumor. Sometimes, an unrelated medical study – such as an X-ray following a car accident – may reveal an unexpected mass.
There is no single symptom that definitively indicates a brain or spinal tumor. Possible symptoms include:
- New seizures
- Personality changes
- Progressive headaches
Some tumors grow quickly and cause symptoms to become more severe in several days to weeks. Others cause symptoms to worsen slowly, over months or years. Some people experience a seemingly sudden event that leads to diagnosis. It’s common to feel quite normal just a week or two before a brain tumor diagnosis.
Brain tumor diagnosis and screening
An accurate diagnosis is critical in determining the best course of treatment for your brain tumor. Our team performs a complete evaluation to determine the exact type and location of every tumor using the latest techniques:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis to evaluate whether there is cancer in other parts of the body
- Functional MRI (fMRI), which allows care teams to localize language, motor and vision activities in the brain and includes specialized oversight by a neuropsychologist. We are the Kansas City metro region's only hospital to offer the unique expertise of a neuropsychologist to read and interpret the fMRI scans.
- Magnetic resonance perfusion to capture images of blood flow and volume, often elevated in aggressive tumors
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy for information on the chemical composition of the brain
- Positron emission tomography to detect metabolic activity, which is seen in fast-growing, aggressive tumors
Brain tumor treatment
It is critical to quickly diagnose brain tumors. A brain tumor requires an individualized treatment approach, which should begin promptly. Our board-certified neuroradiologists are subspecialists trained to interpret imaging studies and are accessible 24/7 to review them and share results with tumor care teams.
Brain tumor treatment is multifaceted and personalized. Our collaborative team addresses the physical, mental and emotional effects of complex brain tumor treatment. Once the specific cancerous or noncancerous tumor type is determined, the right treatment can begin.
There are many possible treatment options, depending on the type of brain tumor, location and other information.
Chemotherapy delivers medication orally or by IV infusion to attack cancer cells anywhere they reside within the body. Our fellowship-trained specialists have extensive experience in determining which types of chemotherapies are best to attack even the rarest forms of cancer.
Immunotherapy trains the body's own immune system to destroy cancer cells. Cells are removed from the body and genetically re-engineered, then reintroduced into the body with the ability to hunt and destroy cancer cells.
Neurosurgery is often the best and fastest way to reduce the bulk of the tumor, preparing you for radiation or chemotherapy, if needed. When possible, our team will perform minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, which relies upon collaboration between ENTs and neurosurgeons and offers faster recovery, reduced infection risk and fewer side effects.
Radiation oncology destroys tumor cells with radiation while preserving the surrounding healthy tissue. One advancement in radiation treatment, brachytherapy, involves placement of radioactive seeds into or around brain tumors, directing high radiation doses to the tumor while protecting healthy tissue. The University of Kansas Health System was the first in the region to offer GammaTile to treat aggressive brain tumors. GammaTile is an FDA-cleared, targeted radiation therapy that helps slow tumor regrowth. The tile is placed immediately after brain tumor removal surgery to deliver targeted radiation. Made of collagen, it is safely reabsorbed by the body over time.
Stereotactic radiosurgery applies radiation precisely to tumor cells, in contrast to general radiation of the whole brain. This collaboration between neurosurgical and radiation oncology teams increases accuracy and provides greater effectiveness with fewer side effects.
Get started as a new patient
Before your first appointment, sign up for MyChart. MyChart allows you to fill out new patient paperwork, get directions to your appointment and communicate with your care team.
Why choose us for brain tumor treatment
- The University of Kansas Health System offers interdisciplinary, collaborative care to provide complete care options. This helps achieve maximum tumor removal for the best symptom control and highest survival rates. Our subspecialty-trained doctors bring unparalleled experience to your care.
- We are fortunate to have 2 of the few neuropathologists in the Kansas City metro area. These specialists play a unique role in tumor care, analyzing brain tissue samples to evaluate the complicated distinctions among tumor cells.
- Those people with cancerous brain tumors benefit from the expertise offered at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, 1 of just 71 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the nation and the only one in the region.
- We apply state-of-the-art neuronavigation technologies to effectively map brain surgeries, including the region's only intraoperative MRI and one of the few 3D printers maintained on site. We also offer support groups for patients and families managing their lives with or following complex neurological conditions.
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Doctors at The University of Kansas Health System are care providers and researchers at the forefront of new medical discoveries. From primary care to complex conditions, we offer hundreds of specialists.