Glioma Treatment Options

Treating over 1,000 brain tumors, including, glioma patients each year, Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center is ready to quickly treat your unique cancer with the highest standard of care. Our team is dedicated to finding the best care path for each patient, without delay, using the latest diagnostic and treatment tools. We provide a comprehensive full range of glioma therapies, along with promising new treatments through clinical trials.

With the results of your diagnostic tests and glioma grade, our specialists from both Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s — including medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists — will work closely together to develop a unique treatment plan that works best for your glioma. We will ensure coordinated care, carefully monitoring and treating your cancer as well as helping to provide relief for your symptoms. Your care team will work together to organize your individualized health care plan to achieve the best possible outcomes for your cancer.

We want you to feel like you are an active participant in your care. Please talk to your care team about your treatment goals. Learn treatment-related questions to ask during your healthcare appointments. Our team works at the Dana-Farber and Brigham campuses in Boston, as well as locations in the surrounding community, and your appointments may be at one of these locations depending on the purpose of your visit.

Treatment options and the length of treatment vary from patient to patient. Treatment options are based on various factors, including the grade and location of your glioma, your overall health and whether or not your tumor can be removed by surgery. For gliomas, treatment commonly involves a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, although there may be gliomas where only surgery or only radiation is needed. For other types of brain tumors, treatment may also require only surgery or only radiation.

Our center is equipped with the latest tools, research and expertise to treat your glioma. Our surgeons perform more than 900 brain tumor (including glioma) surgeries (craniotomies) each year. All glioma surgical operations are performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Glioma Grading

Surgery is needed to obtain tissue to accurately grade the type of glioma or other brain tumor you may have. For most brain tumors, surgery is also the first step in treatment. Surgery is performed through a craniotomy. Sometimes, a stereotactic biopsy may be performed before surgery. The tissue removed will be examined in detail by a dedicated neuro-pathologist to determine the precise type and grade of the tumor. The grade describes how much the cancer cells look like normal cells, using a scale of I to IV. Grades I and II gliomas are considered low-grade and grow and spread slowly. Grades III and IV gliomas are considered high-grade and grow and spread quickly. In addition, the DNA of the tumor is sequenced and characterized by our team so that we can even more accurately characterize the type of glioma you may have and devise the best treatment approach.

The type of brain tumor is one of the most important things to know when deciding how to best treat your cancer.

Learn more about the glioma grading.

Surgical Treatment Options

Our experienced neurosurgeons treat hundreds of patients with gliomas each year. Our neurosurgeons work with other specialists to develop a personalized treatment plan, and we use the most up-to-date treatments available.

Learn more about our surgical treatment options here.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Our team will formulate a detailed treatment plan including non-surgical treatment options, such as chemotherapy (cancer treatment that uses one or more medicines to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors), radiation therapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy (cancer treatments that use medicines to slow the growth of cancer), as well as clinical trials and treatments for any symptoms you may have. Your care team will work to control the spread of your cancer and manage your symptoms.

Learn about an experimental targeted therapy for patients with grade 2 gliomas. This treatment may help to delay the need for chemotherapy and radiation for many years.

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