Our Approach to Brain, Spine & Central Nervous System Cancer Care
Access comprehensive care from world-renowned specialists in brain, spine, and other central nervous system cancers at Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. We treat benign as well as highly complex and fast-growing cancers and are ranked in the top one percent of all U.S. hospitals for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report.
Pioneers in cancer innovation, we were the first in the New York Metro area to use real-time, CT (computed tomography) imaging during spine and brain surgery to enhance our navigation and precision. We continue to offer some of the most cutting-edge therapies for brain, spine, and other central nervous system cancers in the nation, including molecular profiling and sophisticated visualization of tumors. Through our extensive clinical trials program, we are investigating new therapies for these cancers, and enabling many patients to access novel treatments still unavailable at other cancer centers.
Highly Specialized, Coordinated Care
We offer a unique, multidisciplinary team approach to care that brings together highly specialized experts in surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, neuropathology, chemotherapy, radiation oncology, and more. Patient navigators and other support staff are part of this team as well, and help patients feel supported and cared for as they navigate their cancer journey.
Every week, the team meets at tumor boards to collaborate on building a highly personalized care plan with treatment options for each patient.
For information on Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center’s approach to brain, spine, and other central nervous system cancers in children or adolescents, see childhood brain, spine and nerve cancer care.
Diagnosis & Grading
We provide compassionate care for people with brain, spine, and central nervous system cancers by providing access to the latest technologies and skilled doctors and surgeons—and quickly. To make a cancer diagnosis, we gather personal and family medical history, perform neurologic and other exams, and turn as needed to sophisticated diagnostic tools that enable us to rapidly make an accurate diagnosis.
In addition to using CT scanners and MRI units for imaging studies and brain biopsy to obtain tissue samples to examine for cancer cells, we can turn to one of our state-of-the-art tools such as functional MRI to help make a diagnosis. These units help surgeons identify areas vital to a person’s ability to speak, for example, so that surgery and other therapies can be crafted to avoid damaging the area.
Findings from these kinds of diagnostic studies are critical in generating one of four distinct brain tumor “grades” that signal to doctors how a brain tumor is likely to behave and grow. Because tumors that start in the brain usually stay in the brain, they are given a grade as opposed to “stage” that indicates how far it has spread through the body.
Tumors and other growths on the spine are serious because of the damage they can do to the spinal cord, potentially causing neurologic problems, pain, and life-long disability.
At Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, surgeons rely on sophisticated high-resolution image guidance and navigation tools to perform surgery in the brain, spine, and other parts of the central nervous system. For suspected high-grade glioma tumors, for example, we may use an imaging agent called 5-ALA fluorescence to visualize the site in a much clearer and more nuanced way—enabling us to better avoid or target brain tissue.
Other advanced surgeries include minimally invasive and robotic surgery and endoscopic approaches for treating or removing tumors located deep in the brain. We also perform so-called “awake surgery” designed to avoid parts of the brain responsible for speech and other critical functions.
Other leading treatment options we offer for people with brain, spine, and other central nervous system cancers include:
- Clinical trials—including numerous first-in-human studies of novel therapies.
- Surgery combined with high-dose radiation
- Computerized tomography scanning during surgery, providing surgeons with real-time information about a tumor that can help guide on-the-spot decision-making.
- Genetic testing and molecular profiling to get information for further personalizing your treatments.
A spinal tumor can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and a number of these other options.
Clinical Trials for Brain, Spine & Central Nervous System Cancers
Find a brain, spine & nerve cancer clinical trial that's right for you.
Care Navigation & Support Services
At Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, we’re focused on the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. You can place your trust in our multidisciplinary team of world-renowned experts. Our full-service Cancer Center offers a comprehensive range of traditional and holistic care, from screening and diagnosis, through survivorship. This includes care navigation, mental health and wellness services and other supportive programs like financial counseling and rehabilitation.
Benefit from highly specialized, coordinated and compassionate care focused on the whole person. We’re here to address your complex medical needs and improve your quality of life.
Your Brain, Spine & Central Nervous System Cancers Team
Madhur K. Garg, MD, MBA
Clinical Director, Radiation Oncology, Co-Director, Stereotactic Radiosurgery Program, Professor, Radiation Oncology and Otolaryngology
Katharine A. McNeill, MD
Adilia Hormigo, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Oncology (Medical Oncology), Professor, The Leo M. Davidoff Department of Neurological Surgery, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Leader of the Neuro-Oncology Program, Co-Leader of the Neuro-Oncology Multidisciplinary Disease Team
Vijay Agarwal, MD
Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center doctors caring for people with the many types of cancer that can occur in the brain, spine, and other parts of the central nervous system are widely recognized for their expertise. Challenges these tumors require a level of coordinated services that includes diagnostic excellence, innovative treatment options and psychological and social support. Get to know your world-class neuro-oncology team.
About Brain, Spine & Central Nervous System Cancers
The brain and spinal cord together form the central nervous system. Cancer in these areas disrupts normal brain function, potentially affecting your ability to think and move like you are used to. Tumors here can be either:
- Malignant, or cancerous. A malignant tumor can grow quickly and spread elsewhere.
- Benign, or non-cancerous. Benign cancers often grow slowly and don’t spread to other parts of the body.
There are many different types of brain tumors, also known as central nervous system tumors (CNS). They’re generally differentiated by the cells that make up the tumors and where those tumors occur. Glioblastomas are the most common type of brain cancer. Other common brain tumors include meningiomas, pituitary adenomas and astrocytomas.
Spine Tumors & Spinal Cancer
Tumors that affect the spinal cord are also CNS tumors. Spinal tumors can also affect the bony areas of the spinal canal. Spine tumors We sometimes refer to spine tumors by their location on the spine. A cervical spine tumor, for example, is in the neck. A lumbar spine tumor is in the lower back.
Nerve tumors grow in or around the networks of tissue that branch out from your brain and spinal cord. These tumors are rare and, most of the time, benign.
Events That Might Interest You
Throughout the year, we offer several public events and classes. We design these community engagement programs to help you learn about cancer, cancer prevention, and living with the disease.
Find Cancer Care Locations
We have more locations than ever to help you with diagnosis, learning, prevention, and living with the disease.