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Brain and Nervous System Cancer Care

When you’re diagnosed with a brain or spine tumor, you may not know where to turn. Providence is with you every step of the way with world-class specialists who use state-of-the-art technology to treat your cancer. They also provide compassion and support to ease your journey.

Why Choose Providence for Your Brain and Nervous System Cancer Care?

Every year, fellowship-trained specialists at our brain tumor centers of excellence treat thousands of patients just like you. With such deep experience, you know you’re in the most capable hands. Here are even more reasons so many tumor patients trust Providence for their care:

No two patients are alike. This is why we take a personalized approach to treating cancer of the nervous system, which includes the brain and spine. Our multidisciplinary tumor boards bring together your oncologists, neurologists and other experts to collaborate on your diagnosis and treatment. We also offer a Providence Molecular Tumor Board, which evaluates your genomic and clinical information to find the best genetically matched treatment for you. Your oncologists and neurologists will work with you to design a care plan that fits your needs. It’s an approach that combines leading-edge treatment with the compassionate care Providence is known for.

We take a team-based approach to treating cancer of the brain and spine, and we perform minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Your team may treat you with Gamma Knife, a technology that precisely targets tumors with high-dose radiation beams. Or your specialists may recommend surgery, such as open surgery or neuroendoscopy. A neuroendoscopy is a minimally invasive treatment that uses a small incision to remove a tumor. Depending on your cancer and treatment, your care team may include specialists such as neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-radiologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, oncology nurse navigators and rehabilitation specialists.

Learn more about the experts who make up our multidisciplinary cancer care teams.

We provide you and your family with a full range of support services that go well beyond conventional treatment, from genetic counseling and education to nutrition and pain management. Our rehabilitation therapies – such as speech, occupational and physical therapy – help you regain mental and physical strength following treatment. And because cancer can be an emotional strain, we care for your mind and spirit as well as your body. We offer counseling services and support groups so you can connect with fellow patients and share your journey.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, but access to great brain and nervous system cancer care hasn’t always been the same for everyone. At Providence, we are deeply committed to making sure every patient we treat has access to the best cancer care. We offer various location-specific services to help our patients receive equitable care, such as translation for non-English-speaking patients, telehealth and transportation assistance. We value, respect and support the racial, ethnic, religious, gender, sexual and spiritual identities of each member of our diverse community. And, in keeping with our Mission, Providence offers financial assistance programs that provide free and low-cost care to those who are eligible.

As a patient at Providence, you have access to the largest community-based cancer network in the United States. Being part of a collaborative network means that your local care team shares knowledge and experience with other world-class clinicians across 51 hospitals in seven states. The extent and power of our network is one of the reasons more than 2,000 new brain and nervous system cancer patients – and 50,000 new cancer patients overall – choose Providence each year.

Providence is well known for offering options – and hope – to patients seeking the most advanced procedures and therapies to treat brain and nervous system cancers. As a patient, you have the opportunity to participate in one of more than 35 clinical trials for brain tumors conducted across the Providence network.

About Brain and Nervous System Cancers

Brain and nervous system cancers occur when masses or tumors made of cancer cells form within the brain or spinal cord. These growths may affect a person’s ability to think and move. The expert oncology teams at Providence use the most effective therapies to treat patients with every type of brain and nervous system cancer and their related conditions, including:

  • Glioma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Schwannoma
  • Spinal tumors

Testing and Diagnostics

doctor checks blood pressure of patient

Diagnostic tools help our cancer clinicians determine which therapies will work best for each patient, based on many factors like cancer type and the genetic or molecular profile of the tumor. Your doctors will use multiple advanced diagnostic and prognostic tools to help design your individualized treatment plan. Depending on your case, this may include one or more of the following:

Personalized Treatment for Brain and Nervous System Cancers

We take a team approach to your brain and nervous system cancer treatment because we know this offers the best success in controlling and curing cancer. Your multidisciplinary cancer care team will work with you to design an individualized cancer care plan, from diagnosis to post-treatment support. We offer many different therapies across our Providence locations. Depending on your condition, your personal care plan may include one or more of the following:

Systemic therapies travel through the bloodstream and affect cells in other body parts. They are used for patients whose cancer has spread to other areas of the body or if there’s a high risk of spread. Sophisticated genetic analysis allows us to target therapies to specific DNA mutations that cause cancer cells to develop and grow. Systemic therapies include:

Chemotherapy is the systemic use of cytotoxic chemicals to kill cancer cells. Today there are many medications (e.g., biological medications, immune treatments, targeted therapies) that do not fit the classic definition of chemotherapy yet are often included in this category.

Clinical trials represent research protocols that include the use of new drugs or drug combinations in a specific clinical situation.

Immunotherapy uses drugs to allow the body’s own immune system to more effectively find and destroy cancer cells.

Surgical therapies involve an operation or procedure to remove cancer from the body. Surgery may be the main treatment for some invasive cancers, but it’s only one part of the entire treatment plan. Surgical therapies include:

Brain and nervous system resection is surgical removal of tumors or tissue of the brain or other parts of the nervous system.

Laser interstitial thermal therapy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses a small laser to destroy diseased brain tissue such as tumors.

This procedure may be an option for patients with recurrent or hard-to-reach brain tumors who are not candidates for conventional surgery. It offers targeted treatment with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue, reduced pain and a shorter recovery time.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Neuroendoscopy is an advanced, camera-assisted surgery to examine the skull, brain and spine. The surgeon may also take tissue samples for testing.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation from a source like X-rays or photons to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It may be part of a treatment plan that also includes systemic therapies and/or surgery. Radiation is sometimes used to help ease a patient’s pain or discomfort. Radiation therapies include:

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) are advanced types of radiation therapies. IMRT uses advanced technology to manipulate the radiation beams to conform to the shape of a tumor. VMAT is a subtype of IMRT in which the machine actively delivers radiation beams while moving in an arc around the patient.

This method of radiation delivery offers next-generation capabilities. The arc-based therapy provided via VMAT delivers high doses of radiation to more focused areas, reducing side effects and the overall treatment time for the patient. This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Stereotactic radiation (SABR/SBRT) is a group of treatments that includes stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic ablative radiation (SABR) – both of which are adaptations of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) – for the treatment of targets in the body, but outside the brain. Similar to SRS, these techniques deliver very high doses of radiation using sophisticated motion management and patient immobilization techniques.

The number of radiation treatments is minimal and may range from one to five treatments delivered over one to two weeks.

This procedure is one of several new ways to deliver radiation therapy. It requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Surface-guided radiation therapy (SGRT/SIGRT) is an approach to radiation targeting that offers real-time beam guidance from face and body surface-recognition systems.

This treatment is particularly effective at treating several types of cancer while at the same time reducing toxicity and harm to vital organs, thus minimizing side effects.

This advanced procedure requires a sophisticated facility and equipment, along with highly specialized physicians. It is available at some Providence locations.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT) is a radiation planning and treatment technique in which three-dimensional (3D) imaging enables improved targeting for radiation treatment. 3D planning with CT imaging makes radiation treatment much more conformal, or tailored to the target.

Additional therapies may also be part of the treatment plan for a small number of patients. These may include:

Alternating electrical fields is a treatment that involves wearing a set of electrodes on the body to deliver a mild electric current to the tumor site in intervals throughout the day.

Interventional radiology is an invasive procedure guided by radiologic imaging. This approach may be used to implant a port, or vascular access device, in order to obtain diagnostic material, remove fluid from the chest or abdomen, or deliver treatment locally.

Find Brain and Nervous System Cancer Care Close to You


We are proud to see our dedication to our cancer patients recognized by some of the most well-respected programs and institutions in the United States. Several of our Providence locations have achieved the following accreditations:

Meet the Team

At Providence, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.