Cancers of the brain and spinal cord are considered central nervous system cancers, or CNS cancers. While CNS cancers can be serious, you have the biggest cancer team in Western New York behind you. From imaging specialists to surgeons to radiation oncologists, we’re here to treat you precisely—and personally.
If you have CNS cancer, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Loss of senses
- Hallucinations, confusion and disorientation
- Weakness or numbness
- Problems with your speech, memory or vision
The cause of most brain and spinal cord cancers is not well understood. There are very few known risk factors. Some rare inherited syndromes can increase the risk of developing a brain cancer. Most of the time a brain or spinal cord cancer is caused by a change in the cells genes (DNA). Unfortunately we still do not understand what causes these changes, most are likely a random event that happens within the cell without an external cause.
To diagnose central nervous system cancer, we may give you:
- A thorough neurological exam, including questions and activities designed to help pinpoint the location of a problem within your central nervous system
- Tests for your memory, speech, balance, vision, reflexes and muscle function
- A CT or MRI scan to get a detailed image of your brain and spinal cord
- A biopsy
Because cancers from other parts of the body can spread to the brain, we may also check other parts of your body to see if there are any signs of cancer anywhere else.
Treatment options for CNS cancer include:
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery:
This method delivers an extremely precise dose of radiation to CNS cancers using approximately 200 narrow radiation beams all focused at the same point, which minimizes the risk of damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.
External Beam Radiation Therapy:
A machine called a linear accelerator creates a radiation beam that is used to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors. Typically, treatments take 1-2 minutes. Using Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and 3D radiation techniques, we’re able to deliver a higher dose of radiation with minimal side effects.
Steroids can reduce inflammation and swelling, which in turn helps lessen and eliminate some of the symptoms of CNS cancer.
Neurosurgery involves surgically removing part or all of the tumor.
Chemotherapy drugs are effective in treating some CNS cancers. If you are being treated with chemotherapy, you may also go for radiation therapy, as these two types of treatment work well together to treat certain CNS cancers.