How is a Glioma Treated?

A glioma is a type of brain tumor. 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. 

Gliomas are characterized as Grade I thru IV. Low grade tumors usually are treated with observation, surgery, and radiation. The treatment goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible, as safely as possible.

If surgery is needed, and if it can be done safely based on the tumor’s location, our physicians tailor treatment based on each specific case. Any follow-up care is individualized for the patient based on how much of the tumor was removed, your overall health, and the type of tumor. Surgery may be followed by an MRI scan every few months to check that the tumor growth hasn’t continued from any cells left behind. If a tumor is evident, radiation treatment may be the next step. Chemotherapy is also part of treatment for some patients. If they are left untreated, low grade gliomas may grow into grade III or grade IV tumors, which have greater health risks.

In this video, E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, and Co-Director of the Institute for the Neurosciences at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, speaks about the current standard of care for malignant gliomas and new treatments being researched. Read the full transcript.

What are the Glioma treatment options at Brigham and Women’s Hospital?

Our doctors treat many patients who have gliomas each year. Our unique combination of leading technology, teamwork, technical skill, and compassion brings high-quality care to our patients. 

The AMIGO Suite: Brain Mapping Precisely Guides Treatment

Brigham and Women’s is home to the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite. The suite brings advanced imaging equipment into the operating room to offer patients the most precise and effective treatments. AMIGO allows our neurosurgeons to see the tumor so they can safely remove tissue. This resource, and our experience with treating patients using image guided neurosurgery, is unmatched in New England. In this video, you will see how our advanced brain mapping technology paves the way for personalized, accurate surgery.

New Treatments and Research for Low-Grade Malignant Glioma

With more than 20 research faculty in the Brigham and Women’s Neurosurgery Department and more than $10 million in research funding each year, our clinical trials bring new therapies to patients. Our brain tumor research includes new surgical and radiation techniques, new immunotherapies, delivery of drugs directly to the brain, and the genetics of brain cancers.

A Low Grade Glioma Registry at Brigham and Women’s is now collecting data on up to 2,000 patients with low-grade gliomas to better identify how different tumor types respond to treatment, to further personalize care. Hear Dr. Elizabeth Claus describe the background and work of the Registry.

Brigham and Women’s researchers also are studying the best ways to keep patients well, including through diet and exercise. Their aim is to maximize physical and brain function, and minimize depression associated with a brain tumor diagnosis.

Dana-Farber Collaboration

As part of the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, our neurosurgeons collaborate with clinicians at  Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to develop individual treatment plans for each of our patients. Our joint Neuro-Oncology Center offers the latest advances in care for patients with brain tumors and neurologic complications from cancer. Together we are ranked the #4 cancer center in the nation, and the #1 program in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit

In the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, one of the largest such units in the country, critical care specialists are available 24/7. The medical team includes neuro-radiologists who analyze your imaging, neuro-pathologists who diagnose tumor type, and neuro-anesthesiologists who specialize in assisting your surgical treatment.

Contact the Brain Tumor Center

The Brain Tumor Center is home to 23 neurosurgeons – among them world leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of gliomas. In additional to their exceptional technical skill, our neurosurgeons are routinely acclaimed by patients for their clear communication, compassion, time spent with patients, and personal care and attention.

Our team of neurosurgeons with deep expertise in treating gliomas includes:

To schedule an appointment with a physician in the Brain Tumor Center, please contact our Patient Coordinator at: (617) 732-6600. We see new patients with a brain tumor diagnosis as soon as the next business day.

If you are a physician seeking to refer a patient to the Brain Tumor Center, please call (617) 732-6600 or you can access our physicians’ office phone numbers. To contact one of our physicians with a question, patient referral or second opinion, you may also email: BWHNeurosurgery@partners.org.

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