At Duke’s nationally ranked Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, we offer hope. Our brain tumor program is one of the world's largest and most successful centers to offer brain cancer treatment and research programs. People travel from all around the world to see our brain cancer specialists who offer the latest advances in medicine and neurosurgery to detect and treat brain tumors. Our years of experience and personalized approach address your medical needs and maximize your quality of life.
Offering hope for brain tumor
Whether you are recently diagnosed with a primary brain tumor, or seeking a second opinion, here at Duke we join your fight to treat it. We conduct more groundbreaking research, have more active clinical trials, see more adults and children with brain tumors and brain cancer, have more experience with more types of brain tumors, and provide more innovative treatments than most centers in the world. We take an aggressive team approach to detect, treat, and ultimately provide long-term survival to all of our patients.
The brain tumor doctors and surgeons in our nationally ranked cancer center — one of just a few National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation — are dedicated to caring for brain cancer patients. Unlike most brain cancer centers that see an average of 200 patients a year, our specialists treat approximately 700 per year, and have experience with all types of brain tumors and a personalized approach to the best care.
More patients come to Duke for treatment of their primary brain tumor because we offer:
- The nation’s top doctors specializing in brain tumors. Unlike a lot of centers that filter you through a series of administrators before you speak to a doctor, here you’ll speak to our doctors first. Our world-renowned specialists in oncology and neurosurgery consult with you to determine which tests you need and decide the next steps for your care.
- The latest OR technology. We are one of only a handful of medical centers that have an intra-operative MRI (iMRI) in our operating rooms. This allows neurosurgeons to get an MRI while a patient is still in surgery, confirming that all of the tumor is removed, ensuring the success of the surgery, and reducing the time and number of procedures a patient has to endure.
- Medical advances that improve the duration and quality of life. We co-developed a vaccine that extends the lives of people with glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. Research continues to make the vaccine stronger, and the immune response more powerful. The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center played a pivotal role in the introduction of Avastin in the treatment of brain tumors.
- Nationally ranked cancer program. Duke is consistently ranked among the best cancer programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, our team is recognized for exploring new treatment opportunities through ongoing research and clinical trials.
- A team of caring nurses. Our dedicated team includes advanced care nurses. A nurse will be your main point of contact throughout your treatment and recovery, answering any questions about your initial evaluation, surgical procedures, financial concerns, emotional needs and dietary requirements.
- Extensive brain tumor research. At the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, our robust research program is dedicated to finding better outcomes for brain tumors. Under the leadership of Darell Bigner, MD, PhD., we explore ways to selectively target tumors, and design new agents to destroy cancer. We are working to tame fast-growing and drug-resistant tumors. And, our researchers are studying ways to manipulate the genes and proteins that fuel tumor growth.
- Clinical trial access. Many treatments showing success today were developed in our labs by our researchers and may be available to our patients through clinical trials.
- A team of specialists. Our board-certified brain tumor specialists — medical, radiation and surgical oncologists, experts in neurosurgery and neurology, radiologists, pathologists, geneticists, specially trained nurses, nutritionists and social workers — meet regularly to discuss each individual case, collect opinions, and offer coordinated and advanced surgical, medical and follow-up care.
- Comforting environment. Our new Duke Cancer Center features spacious waiting areas, a Quiet Room, large infusion rooms, and a rooftop garden area where patients — based on their treatment regimen — can receive chemotherapy outdoors.
- Support for you and your family. Our comprehensive cancer support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Patients or physicians wishing to schedule an appointment with one of our brain tumor specialists can fill out and submit the appropriate online patient information forms.
Alone, or in combination with radiation therapy, surgery is used to remove and cure brain tumors. We conduct a careful evaluation and examination to determine the type of tumor and medical condition before determining if surgery is your best option. Our skilled surgeons are experienced in removing primary brain tumors and many times are able to operate on patients who were told their condition was not operable. We perform a procedure called a craniotomy to temporarily remove a bone flap from your skull, perform the tumor removal through the opening, and replace the skull bone flap. (We also use the craniotomy to help diagnose brain tumors.)
Image-guided radiation therapy targets the cancerous tumor while preserving your healthy brain tissue. Our radiation oncologists use a number of imaging tools, including MRI and CT scans, to view the precise location of the brain tumor and focus X-rays directly on the tumor.
- Stereotactic radiation. A focused and high dose of radiation targets a well-defined tumor in a short amount of time using 3-D imaging tools to deliver the radiation with exact accuracy.
Sometimes used in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery. Our doctors assess the size and location of your particular tumor, and your symptoms, to develop the best treatment plan. Medication treatments may include:
- Chemotherapy. Oral drugs or injections may be used to kill additional cancer cells after surgery and radiation therapy, especially for aggressive tumors. Chemotherapy may also be combined with targeted therapies, such as Avastin, to battle malignant brain tumors called glioma.
- Immunotherapy. Our researchers treat several types of brain cancer with immunotherapy techniques, which use your immune system to fight the malignant brain tumor cells while sparing healthy brain cells.
- Genetically engineered cancer vaccines. Cancer-fighting viruses, some co-developed here at Duke, may also be a treatment option. These vaccines target cancer cells for infection and kill them, leaving the normal cells the ability to grow. You may be eligible for studies that use vaccines to treat brain tumors in our clinical trials.
In order to properly diagnose and develop a treatment plan customized for each patient, we offer more comprehensive tests for brain tumors than most medical centers in the region. Most tests can be performed in the same day.
Our physicians assess hearing (auditory brainstem response, or ABR), balance, strength, coordination, reflexes, vision, swallowing, and ability to think and remember.
Imaging tests may be performed to help detect and diagnose the type of brain tumor. These tests include CT or CAT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and angiography.
Our specialists may remove a small sample of the tumor in order to pinpoint your diagnosis.
Our experts may perform a craniotomy, a surgical procedure that lets them temporarily open a place in your skull in order to have access to your brain tissue, so they can give you the best diagnosis possible. The craniotomy is also used as a form of surgery to remove brain tumors.