Brain Tumor Frequently Asked Questions

The brain and spinal tumor experts at The University of Kansas Health System provide answers to some of the most common questions surrounding brain tumors. For more information, call 913-588-1227.


Q: What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?

A: New onset seizures, headaches, one-sided weakness, vision changes and/or task confusion are common symptoms seen in patients with brain tumors.

- Michael Salacz, MD, neuro-oncologist

Q: What specialists will I see if I have a brain tumor?

A: Patients with brain tumors often need to see a variety of specialists. Most commonly you will see a neurosurgeon, neuro-oncologist and radiation oncologist.

- Mark Thompson, MD, radiation oncologist


Q: What are the different types of brain tumors?

A: There are two main categories of brain tumors: primary and metastatic. Metastatic means the cancer cells came from somewhere else in the body, such as the breast or lung, and grow within the brain. Primary brain tumors start in the cells of the brain. There are many different types of primary brain tumors, and they can be nonmalignant or malignant.

- Sarah Taylor, MD, neuro-oncologist


Q: How are the brain tumors treated?

A: Treatment depends on the type of brain tumor. The latest procedures include laser ablation, brachytherapy and cancer immunotherapy.

- Paul Camarata, MD, neurosurgeon


Q: What new surgical treatments are available?

A: We offer minimally invasive brain surgery and endoscopic approaches to many patients. Laser ablation allows treatment of certain brain tumors that were once considered inoperable. Other new advances include brachytherapy, where radioactive seeds are implanted during surgery to deliver radiation therapy.

- Roukoz Chamoun, MD, neurosurgeon


Q: Can I participate in a clinical trial?

A: Several trials are available for patients with brain tumors, including those newly diagnosed brain tumors as well as recurrent brain tumors. Learn more at

- Fen Wang, MD, PhD, radiation oncologist


Q: What is a neuropathologist and why is he/she important?

A: A neruopathologist is a physician with training as a general pathologist and advanced training in neuropathology, the study of nervous system diseases, including tumors. The specialty training is helpful in recognizing and diagnosing the many tumor types that are unique to the brain and spinal cord.

- Kathy Newell, MD, neuropathologist


Q: Can I receive treatment close to home?

A: We offer multiple community cancer center and imaging locations for the treatment of cancerous and noncancerous brain tumors.

- Vickie Massey, MD, radiation oncologist


Q: How long after treatment can I return to work?

A: A neuropsychologist can help you plan how best to approach returning to work. Perhaps you can ease back into the workforce by working part-time. Once you are ready to return to work full-time, we have strategies to assist you and help ensure your success.

- Caleb Pearson, PsyD, neuropsychologist


Q: Who gathers my records and makes my first appointment?

A: Nurse navigators answer questions and minimize stress. We work to reduce the time between your diagnosis and treatment, make sure you see the right care providers in a timely manner and ensure your physician receives your complete medical information before your first appointment.

- Emily Connor, RN, nurse navigator

 Emily Connor