Over 24,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain tumors each year. Thankfully, recent surgical advances and new treatment options for patients with benign and malignant brain tumors have made the outlook for many more patients promising. The Brain Tumor Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital offers patients easy access to specialized care for brain tumors.
Our program is a multidisciplinary group dedicated to the care of patients with primary brain tumors, brain metastases, and neurological complications of cancer. We are the only multidisciplinary consortium providing comprehensive brain cancer care in southern New England and have gained regional and national recognition. In addition to novel treatments, the physicians of the Brain Tumor Program conduct clinical trials through Yale Cancer Center.
The physicians of the Brain Tumor Program offer a wide spectrum of advanced strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer including microsurgical tumor removal, intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring, image-guided stereotactic techniques, 3D conformal radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery (gamma knife), and novel, targeted chemotherapies.
The program is comprised of the departments of Neurosurgical Oncology, Neurology, Medical Neuro-Oncology, Therapeutic Radiology, Neuropathology, and Neuroradiology. A dedicated patient coordinator facilitates patient appointments and communication, coordinates services, and supports patients and their families. The expertise of the Brain Tumor Program covers all of the components critical to managing patients with brain tumors: comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, leading edge treatment options, thorough follow-up, and psychosocial support. Patients are welcome whether they are newly diagnosed or have already received extensive treatment.
Yale Neurosurgical Oncology provides one of the most experienced teams of dedicated specialists in the United States. In collaboration with Yale New Haven Hospital, our multidisciplinary approach to the surgical management of brain tumors enables us to offer surgical expertise for any brain tumor patient. Our primary surgical goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible, while preserving our patient’s functional status with safety and precision. To achieve this goal, Yale Neurosurgical Oncology utilizes technology in an operative theater that is unrivaled in the area.
Smilow Cancer Hospital has one of the most experienced intra-operative MRI teams in the world. The use of a high-resolution 3 Tesla MRI with unparalleled anatomical resolution throughout surgery enables our surgeons to closely monitor the removal of a tumor and to confirm during the operation that the goals of surgery have been achieved. Smilow’s unique intraoperative angiography capabilities allow surgeons to decrease blood supply to the tumor making surgery safer.
Our surgeons also achieve precision and accuracy through the use of a stereotactic guidance system that utilizes the patient’s unique facial features for individualized surgical care for each tumor, regardless of its location. Yale Neurosurgical Oncology pioneered the use of brain mapping during surgery to protect critical language and motor function. “Awake” surgery has been performed at Yale since the early 1980s with unparalleled experience. This type of surgery is reserved for select patients with tumors located in high functioning parts of the brain. The use of specialized neuroanesthesia allows the surgeon to interact with the patient during the procedure in an effort to increase tumor resection while preserving critical function.
Our surgeons are also leading the way to identify the genetic causes of brain tumors and to develop the novel therapies that will lead to a cure. Each brain tumor removed at Smilow Cancer Hospital is examined to define its genomic abnormalities. Multidisciplinary experts discuss the results of the genomic analyses during our weekly Precision Medicine Tumor Board and make individualized patient-specific treatment recommendations that can lead to better outcomes for each of our patients.
Lastly, Yale Neurosurgical Oncology is one of the first groups nationally to offer a novel minimally invasive treatment for brain tumors known as Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT). Through a small scalp incision, a laser fiber is placed into the center of a brain tumor and then heat treatment of the tumor is performed under continual MRI guidance. Patients treated with this technique can often be sent home the day after surgery with minimal discomfort and almost no interruption of their other ongoing cancer treatments.