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Cancer Care

Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas

Brain Cancer, Spine Cancer, Metastatic Brain Tumor, Cancer Institutes 
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Brain & Spine Cancer Types 

There are several types of tumors that affect the brain and spinal cord:

  • Astrocytomas are one type of primary brain tumor. They start in the brain rather than metastasizing or spreading from another part of the body. They can occur as a Grade II tumor (astrocytoma) or Grade III tumor (anaplastic astrocytoma). Grade II tumors grow slowly within the brain and are usually treated with radiation therapy. Grade III tumors are more aggressive and require treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
  • Craniopharyngioma is a slow-growing tumor that develops at the base of the skull. It usually is treated with surgery and possibly radiation therapy. The surgical approach to the skull base is a difficult procedure. Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas offers the Skull Base Tumor Center for the advanced treatment of skull base tumors like craniopharyngiomas.

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  • Ependymomas occur most often on the spinal cord. They are usually slow growing and surgery is the most important treatment. Radiation therapy is used for incompletely resected ependymomas or for those considered likely to recur. Anaplastic ependymomas are more common in children and occur more often in the brain. They are treated with surgery, radiation therapy and occasionally chemotherapy.
  • Glioblastoma or Grade IV astrocytoma is the most malignant of the primary brain tumors and unfortunately the most common. Patients with glioblastoma require treatment with both radiation therapy and chemotherapy. This approach has led to an improved survival for many patients with glioblastoma. Baylor offers several clinical trials for patients with either a new diagnosis or a recurrent glioblastoma. 
  • Glioma is a general term that includes many types of primary brain tumors, such as Astrocytoma, Ependymomas, Glioblastoma, Oligoastrocytoma and Oligodendroglioma.
  • Meningioma is a tumor that develops in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). These tumors are usually slow growing and may or may not require treatment.

Surgery is the most important treatment option. Meningiomas that are difficult to remove surgically may also benefit from the advanced treatment options of the Gamma Knife® and CyberKnife® offered at the Baylor Radiosurgery Center

Metastatic Brain Tumor

Many types of cancer can spread or metastasize to the brain. These are considered secondary brain tumors. Among the most common types of cancer that can spread are: breast, lung, kidney and melanoma skin cancers. Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.

  • Metastatic brain tumors can occur as a single lesion or as multiple lesions. Some metastatic tumors can be removed surgically. Others may be treated with radiation therapy or with the advanced treatment offered by the Gamma Knife® and CyberKnife® at the Baylor Radiosurgery Center.
  • Oligoastrocytoma / Mixed Glioma - Sometimes a primary brain tumor will have areas that look like astrocytoma and other areas that look like oligodendroglioma. These tumors are referred to as oligoastrocytomas or mixed gliomas and are more likely to respond to chemotherapy than astrocytomas. Patients usually receive both radiation therapy and chemotherapy at some point in their treatment.
  • Oligodendrogliomas develop in the brain and can be low grade (Grade II) or anaplastic (Grade III). It has recently been recognized that oligodendrogliomas are more receptive to chemotherapy than more common astrocytomas. This chemotherapy sensitivity correlates with a genetic change within the oligodendroglioma. This genetic test can be detected within the tumor specimen removed at biopsy or resection. The presence or absence of this change can help determine the appropriate treatment. Patients may receive chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy before, after or during radiation therapy.