Center for Neuro-Oncology
The Center for Neuro-Oncology offers state-of the-art treatment for patients with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, and neurologic complications from cancer. Our specialists work to ensure you receive coordinated treatment and support. We focus on helping you cope with your illness and maintain the quality of your life.
About the Center for Neuro-Oncology
The Center for Neuro-Oncology offers the latest advances in care for adult patients with tumors of the brain or spinal cord, as well as for neurologic complications of cancer and its treatments. Treatment for brain cancer is complex and treatment planning requires involvement from many subspecialists including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Through our Multidisciplinary Clinic, patients have the benefit of meeting with our team of surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists at one time and in one place to develop individualized treatment plans.
We focus on treating both common and rare brain tumors, including glioma, glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, astrocytoma, meningioma, lymphoma, brain metastases, and medulloblastoma.
Our clinicians are experts in treatment options that include precise neurosurgical techniques, radiation therapy that targets tumors while sparing surrounding tissues, and a variety of chemotherapy and molecular drugs targeting your type of cancer.
You may also benefit from our research program. As we search for new, more effective treatments, we are able to offer our patients access to a range of clinical trials for various types and stages of brain and spinal cord cancers.
Our research is dedicated to advancing brain tumor diagnosis and treatment. Learn more about our research and treatment in the key areas of immunotherapy, cancer genetics/genotyping, and targeted therapies/precision cancer medicine.
Our approach to compassionate care centers on the individual needs of our patients and their families. Our team members work closely together to ensure that you receive carefully coordinated treatment and support. We focus on helping you cope with your illness and maintain the quality of your life.
You and your family are key members of the care team. While we understand your illness, you understand your own body. We welcome your questions and value your participation as we make decisions together.
Types of brain and spinal cord tumors we treat include:
- Anaplastic astrocytoma
- Anaplastic mixed glioma
- Anaplastic oligoastrocytoma
- Anaplastic oligodendroglioma
- Astrocytic cancer
- Brain metastasis
- Brain stem glioma
- Central nervous system (CNS) tumors
- Colloid cyst
- Germ cell tumor
- Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)
- Mixed gliomas
- Leptomeningeal disease (carcinomatous menigitis)
- Low-grade glioma
- Pilocytic astrocytoma
- Pineal gland parenchymal tumor
- Pineal tumor
- Pituitary adenoma
- Primary brain tumor
- Spinal cord tumors
- Vascular brain tumors
- Vestibular schwannomas
- Skull base tumors
- Vestibular schwannomas
Informative slide shows from our experts
Approximately 23,000 new cases of malignant brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Learn about the different types of brain tumors, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
View this Slideshare presentation by Patrick Wen, MD, director of Dana-Farber's Center for Neuro-Oncology,in which he discusses how molecular testing can help guide treatment decisions for patients with glioblastoma, meningioma, medulloblastoma, and other brain tumors. The presentation was originally given as a webinar hosted by the American Brain Tumor Association.
View this Slideshare presentation by Patrick Wen, MD, director of Dana-Farber's Center for Neuro-Oncology,in which he presents the latest treatment options and research for brain tumor patients.
View this Slideshare presentation by Dana-Farber nutritionist Emily Biever, MS, RD, LDN, in which she discusses healthy eating tips for brain tumor patients. Learn about diets, food fads, and healthy recipes.
View this Slideshare presentation by Dana-Farber neuropsychologist Clare Humphreys, PhD, in which she discusses the mental difficulties that brain tumor patients face, and how to cope with symptoms of treatment.
Our Approach to Treatment
Treatment for brain cancers is complex, and treatment planning requires involvement and coordination among many subspecialists. That's why we take a multidisciplinary approach to developing a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your type of cancer. Through our multidisciplinary clinic, you meet with a team of specialists, as a group, to develop an individualized treatment plan that works for your needs. The multidisciplinary team involved in coordination of your care includes specialists in:
- Neuro-imaging: We use the most advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including functional MRI, perfusion and diffusion MRI, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to perform imaging of the brain and spinal cord. We also use computerized tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans.
- Neuro-oncology: Our neuro-oncologists evaluate the appropriate chemotherapy for your type of cancer. Chemotherapy may be used alone or in combination with radiation therapy. Treatments range from standard chemotherapy to use of anti-angiogenic agents (which target the blood vessels feeding the tumor), and new molecular agents available through clinical trials.
- Neurosurgery: Our neurosurgeons use advanced technologies to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving the surrounding brain tissue. These techniques include a revolutionary open-style MRI scanner that allows the neurosurgeon to see MRI images in real time during surgery. This intra-operative MRI can help the neurosurgeon remove the tumor more precisely, reducing the risk of damage to other parts of the brain.
Other surgical technologies include the use of 3-D navigation systems that allow neurosurgeons to precisely locate deep-seated or small brain tumors; monitor speech, motor or visual functions during surgery; and observe delicate cranial nerve functions.
- Radiation therapy: Our highly experienced team of neuro-radiation oncologists use 3-D conformal radiation, intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), rotational RapidArcTM Therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic radiotherapy capabilities (SRT) to individualize a treatment plan for you.
- Neuropsychology: Patients can work with our neuropsychologist to evaluate concerns about cognitive functioning as a result of their cancer or cancer treatment.
We understand that cancer affects patients and their families in many ways. In addition to clinical care, we offer a wide range of support services to help you and your family manage your experience with cancer treatment and survivorship, including:
The Treatment Team
Depending on your diagnosis, your team may include the following specialists:
- Neuro-oncologists, who are experts in treating tumors of the brain and spinal cord
- Neurosurgeons, who are highly skilled in the precise techniques of operating on the brain and spinal cord
- Radiation oncologists, who specialize in using radiation that targets the tumor while sparing surrounding tissues
- Social workers, who help you cope with the emotional impact of diagnosis and treatment
- Nurses and nurse practitioners, who provide health assessment, patient and family education, symptom management, screening for clinical trial eligibility, and quality of life assessment.
Neuro-Oncology Physician Assistant and Nurses
Shelly Lynn Beckley, NP
Sheila Connelly, RN
Rachel Silverman, RN
Osama Al-Mefty, MD
Mohammed Aziz-Sultan, MD
John Chi, MD, MPH
Ennio A. Chiocca, MD, PhD
Elizabeth Claus, MD, PhD
Rose Du, MD, PhD
Ian Dunn, MD
Kai Frerichs, MD
Alexandra Golby, MD
William B. Gormley, MD
Michael W. Groff, MD
Edward Laws, MD
Pier Paolo Peruzzi, MD, PhD
Timothy R. Smith. MD, PhD, MPH
Neurosurgery Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants
Sara June Dagen, RN
Sherry Iuliano, FNP-C
Mary Beth Mondello, NP
Daniel Triggs, NP
Clare Humphreys, PhD
Neuro-Oncology Social Workers
Rachel Allende,LICSW (Spanish and Portuguese-speaking patients)
Sara E. Nemitz, LICSW (inpatient)
Nancy Goldsmith Tharler, LICSW
The Center for Neuro-Oncology is at the forefront of discovery and development of new treatments for brain and central nervous system tumors. Center investigators have made important inroads in basic and clinical research to better understand the biology that underlies these tumors and identify and test new therapies.
Our researchers are also involved in many projects for the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Brain Cancer SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence), including those focused on PI3K inhibitors, IDH mutations, Olig2 suppressors and immunotherapy.
Our Center offers a number of exciting clinical trials for patients with primary and metastatic brain and spinal cord tumors. These trials explore several innovative approaches to improve outcomes and quality of life for brain tumor patients, including immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and anti-angiogenesis inhibitors.
Learn more about our clinical trials:
- Clinical trials for patients with newly diagnosed brain tumors
- Clinical trials for recurrent glioblastoma
- Clinical trials for non-glioblastoma brain tumors
Our research team is leading basic, translational and clinical research aimed at advancing the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of brain tumors. Areas of focus include:
In addition, we are conducting research on CNS and systemic lymphoma, brain metastasis, adaptive designs for brain tumor clinical trials, neurologic complications of cancer, oncolytic viruses, surgical brain mapping, molecular and cellular surgical oncology, CNS drug delivery/mass spectometry, preclinical animal models, tumor metabolism/IDH mutations, Olig 2 suppression, and advanced neuro-imaging.
If you have never been seen before at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, please call 877-442-3324 or use our online form to request an appointment.
You may schedule your first appointment for as soon as the next day. After scheduling, one of our nurses will call you to answer your questions and help you prepare for the appointment.
For all other inquiries, please call 617-632-2166.
Radiation Oncology: 617-732-6313, option 3
Referring physicians: 617-632-3703