Why Choose Us for Neuro-Oncologic Care?
At the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, patients with brain tumors benefit from the skills and knowledge of a highly focused, multidisciplinary team of experts. This includes specialists and subspecialists in the following fields.
- Neurosurgery: doctors who target brain tumors with conventional and minimally invasive brain and spine surgery
- Neurology: the branch of medicine focused on the nervous system
- Neuro-radiology: doctors who use radiography (CT scan, MRI scan, angiography, etc.) to diagnose brain tumors
- Neuro-pathology: specialists who study the microscopic changes of the nervous system cells that allow accurate diagnosis of tumors.
- Neuro-oncology: the study and treatment of tumors involving the central nervous system
- Radiation oncology: specialists who treat tumors with advanced radiation techniques, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Neuro-otology: a subspecialty focused on the interference between the brain and the ear with expertise in treating tumors that cause hearing loss, balance changes, and dizziness.
- Neuro-ophthalmology: a subspecialty focused on the interface between the brain and the eye with special expertise in treating tumors of the eye, orbit, and optic nerves.
Together, these doctors review each case regularly so that patients receive the most accurate diagnosis and most effective treatment.
Highly Ranked Programs
Doctors at the Brain Tumor Center are backed by nationally recognized neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, and radiation therapists, who bring their skills and experience to help patients with brain tumors.
Our neurology and neurosurgery programs are highly ranked, according to U.S.News & World Report. Our cancer program is listed as one of the best in the nation -- the highest ranking for any cancer program in Illinois.
Using Technology to Preserve Function
During the course of treatment, doctors strive to preserve a patient's normal, healthy tissue whenever possible.
Sparing healthy tissue and function has always been a top priority for our team. For example, doctors at the University of Chicago developed one of the first computer systems to display three-dimensional CT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pictures of tumors -- and thus, help plan tissue-sparing treatment--more than a decade ago.
Today, our doctors use tools such as MRIs to map areas of the brain responsible for speech and function. These maps are important for planning treatment, before and during surgery.
Dedicated Neuro-Intensive Care
Helping patients have a smooth recovery from surgery is also a critical part of care for brain tumors. At the University of Chicago, patients recover in our state-of-the-art Neuro-Intensive Care Unit. Located in the new Center for Care and Discovery and staffed by full-time neurological and critical care specialists, the Neuro-ICU is the only unit of its kind in the Chicago area.
Here, a staff of specially trained physicians and nurses assess a patient's vital functions, speech, strength, and eye responses every hour -- or more frequently, if necessary. This focused team coordinates the precise care that each patient needs while they recover -- to help ensure the best possible outcome.
When tumors do not respond to more conventional treatments, patients at the Brain Tumor Center may choose to participate in clinical trials of new treatments and breakthrough drugs. Our brain tumor patients benefit from the widest variety of such protocols available in the Chicago area.
Our program is a member of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB), a national consortium of leading institutions dedicated to cancer research, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. In addition, the center actively participates in clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
Our physicians are active researchers who use their discoveries to design treatment protocols to benefit patients at the bedside. Some of the studies underway:
Working in tandem with standard chemotherapy drugs, O-6 benzylguanine may help to overcome the blood-brain barrier so chemotherapy drugs can penetrate the brain and reach the tumor. This agent may help overcome the brain's natural protective resistance to certain drugs. Combining O-6 benzylguanine with conventional tumor-fighting drugs such as BCNU may make the BCNU more effective.
This radiation-sensitizing agent may enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy. The agent accumulates within the tumor, and then can be traced on an MRI to help radiation oncologists precisely focus the radiation beam. Fine-tuning the focus of radiation more effectively destroys the tumor, while limiting damage to surrounding healthy tissue.