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Getting started

Your treatment begins with your Legacy Cancer Institute doctor recommending a plan based on expert guidelines, called protocols. Your treatment is determined by:

  • The type of tumor
  • The location of the tumor
  • The extent of the disease, called the stage
  • Any tests you have had during diagnosis
  • A discussion about what is right for you

Meet our providers 

Our team of specialists provide advanced treatment in brain and spine cancer care. Learn more about our experts. 

Brain and spinal cord cancer treatment options

There are several types of treatment for brain and spinal cord cancer, and many people undergo a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery seeks to remove the tumor without damaging healthy areas within the brain and spine. In some cases, the surgery is part of diagnosing the cancer. In some people, the surgeon cannot remove the entire tumor because it is too near vital parts of the brain or spine. In those cases, chemotherapy and radiation is used to shrink the remaining tumor.

    Legacy has a variety of advanced technologies to help perform complex brain and spinal cord procedures. The technologies give our surgeons the ability to see details not often visible through other means. We also perform the surgery with smaller incisions than conventional surgery; potential benefits are faster recovery and reduced complications. 
  • Radiation uses X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is sometimes the only treatment for brain and spinal cord tumors because of the location of the tumor. Radiation can be used together with chemotherapy or surgery.

    Legacy Cancer Institute also has an experienced Gamma Knife radiosurgery team for the treatment of certain brain tumors. Learn more about Gamma Knife.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill cancer cells. For brain and spinal cord cancer, chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery and often with radiation. Or it may be the main treatment for people who can't have surgery. 
  • Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to treat cancer (also called biologic therapy). 

Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating brain and spinal cord cancer. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.

Care for children 

Brain and spinal cord cancers are the second most common type of childhood cancers. Medical advances mean more children with cancer are saved each year. Our team of experts at Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel work together to provide the latest treatment options for children with brain cancer.  

Learn more about treatment of childhood cancers

What happens next 

Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these side effects in the best ways possible.

To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. The tests can also determine if cancer has returned.

Whenever possible, we work to stop cancer. But when we can’t, we can often control it for a better quality of life, often called palliative care.

Working together for you

Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.

A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.

More support 

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs. 

Meet our providers 

Our team of specialists provide advanced treatment in brain and spine cancer care. Learn more about our experts.