Brain & Spine Cancer

Patients come from all over the region for consultations, treatment and second onions.

The Brain & Spine Cancer Center team at Nebraska Medicine diagnoses, treats and supports patients with brain tumors, spine tumors and tumors involving the nervous system. Our fellowship-trained expertise paired with the leading edge therapies such as, advanced imaging, brain mapping, targeted therapy are steadily improving how we treat brain cancers.

Malignant Cancers

We focus on malignant cancers that begin in your brain (primary cancer), or cancers that spread to the brain (metastatic) brain and spinal cord tumors, including:

  • Gliomas
  • Astrocytomas
  • Oligodendrogliomas
  • Ependymomas
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Neuroblastoma

Malignant Skull-Based Tumors

  • Carcinomas
  • Sarcomas
  • Esthesioblastoma
  • Carcinoid
  • Musocal Melanoma

We Also Treat Non-cancerous (Benign) Tumors:

  • Meningioma
  • Acoustic or Vestibular Schwannomas 
  • Pituitary Adenoma
  • Hemangioblastoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Choroidplexispapilloma

Advanced Ways We Treat Brain Cancers 

Our neurosurgeons are experienced at taking on some of the most serious and complicated cases. Some of those involve tumors in or within close proximity to the areas of the brain that control speech, motor and sensory functions. Among the techniques employed is awake brain surgery, in which the patient is awake during portions of the operation in order to respond to questions and stimulations.

Brain Mapping 

Nebraska Medicine is also one of a small number of hospitals across the country to house the magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanner, the most advanced technology available to precisely map areas of the brain where activity is occurring. With this extremely accurate mapping ability, the MEG allows doctors to pinpoint atypical brain developments or brain lesions and can assist surgeons in performing highly targeted brain operations.

Additional Therapies We Use for Treating Brain and Spine Cancers

  • Chemotherapy
    • Personalized Medicine (Targeted Therapy) - A treatment plan that is developed based on your genetics, specific tumor type and more.
  • Optune Therapy - a wearable, FDA-approved device that provides ongoing therapy
  • Radiation Therapy
    • Stereotactic Radiosurgery - A non-invasive radiation therapy used to treat brain tumors.  

 

Deep, Broad Expertise and Experience

Our team includes the only neuro-oncologist (brain cancer specialist) in the state who specializes in brain tumors and a neurosurgical oncologist who specializes in brain and spine tumors. Every patient seen at one of our locations has a full team of specialists working together to create an individualized treatment plan, including:

  • Head and Neck Surgery
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Neurosurgical Oncologists
  • Neuro-Oncologists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Neuropathologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Speech Therapists
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy

The multidisciplinary team approach combined with the latest diagnostic testing and key research findings offers each patient the best possible care available in the region.

In addition to some of our staff receiving previous fellowship training at top cancer institutes such as the MD Anderson Cancer Center, we also see the bulk of brain tumor patients in the region, meaning we get exposed to particularly rare, challenging-to-remove tumors many doctors will not come across in their lifetimes.

That matters when for example when being treated for a glioblastoma - which is the most common type of cancerous brain tumor in adults. Sometimes in the first few months after treatment you develop pseudo-progression - meaning the tumor appears larger and brighter on some scans. This phenomenon can easily be misinterpreted by someone unfamiliar with these cancers as proof the treatment isn't working.

We regularly remove tumors in or within close proximity to the “eloquent areas” of the brain that control speech, motor or sensory functions. Among the techniques employed is awake brain surgery where the patient is awake during portions of the operation in order to respond to questions.

A multidisciplinary neuro-oncology tumor board also meets weekly to collaborate and formulate a clear and comprehensive plan for your care and treatment. That means it's not just one doctor advising you, but a vast team of experts.

Patients undergoing cancer treatment at Nebraska Medicine also have access to our 24/7 Infusion Center at the Peggy D. Cowdery Patient Care Center, which serves as both a treatment center and 24/7 urgent-care-type facility. A rare offering in the region.

Patient Guides

Many of our specialists are very involved in research to find new treatments and cures for this disease. Cooperative and Investigator Initiated Clinical Trials, meaning we aren't just taking part in clinical tries going on in other locations, but we initiate them. To learn more and support our research projects visit the links here:

The Brain Cancer Research Fund - Gifts to this fund allow us to start pilot projects, conduct cross-disciplinary research, fund post-doctoral students participating in studies, host applicable lectures or attend meetings for the collaboration and advancement of novel ideas in the pursuit of improving brain tumor treatments and outcomes.

The Brain and Spine Cancer Research Fund - Gifts to this fund affords our doctors the opportunity to take part in some of the most current clinical trials, giving patients early access to the newest drugs and most leading-edge treatment options before they become widely available.

Cancer Support Services

Finding out that you have cancer can be a very emotional and difficult time. You will likely have many questions and issues to work through. We will be with you every step of the way. Nebraska Medicine offers a host of to help you with your physical, emotional, educational and financial needs. For more information visit the cancer support services page.

The Brain and Spine Cancer Center has a brain tumor education and support group to provide support and knowledge to you and your family. Sessions may include information, resources, or expert speakers on various relevant topics. Participants are encouraged to talk and share their experiences and struggles and to celebrate their success.

We're Here for you Long After Your Treatment

Our Survivorship Clinic is designed to help you deal with the emotional and physical challenges cancer can leave behind such as fear of recurrence, physical and medical long-term side effects and helping you return to a normal life again. It will also help you transition back into the care of your primary care physician.

Additional Resources