Brain Tumor Center

brain cancer survivor on cover of brochure

The Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital is an internationally recognized lead center for comprehensive and multidisciplinary brain tumor care. A hub of excellence in clinical care and research, our team of specialists is dedicated exclusively to the care of patients with all types of brain tumors. Our specialists have extensive experience with:
  • Primary brain tumors, such as glioblastomas, astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and others
  • Brain metastases and leptomeningeal metastases, which originate from other cancers in the body
  • Other primary tumors, such as meningiomas and schwannomas
  • Rare brain tumors including craniopharyngiomas, medulloblastomas, ependymomas pineal tumors, pituitary tumors, and others
  • All types of neurological complications of cancer and their treatments


The Brain Tumor Center comprises experts from multiple disciplines including Neurosurgery, Neuro-Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Neuropathology, Neuroradiology, and Genetics. In addition to physicians, our team includes specialized nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, as well as clinical trial coordinators and social workers - all working together to deliver the most effective, compassionate, and personalized care. The Center’s expertise covers all the critical components to successfully care for patients with brain tumors, starting with comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and state-of-the-art genomic profiling of the tumor, and providing the latest treatment options and cutting-edge clinical trials. We also off er an extensive program to improve patients’ quality of life before, during, and after treatment, including psychosocial support, rehabilitation for memory impairment, and other resources.

Our highly coordinated team of specialists meets weekly during our multidisciplinary Brain Tumor Board and Precision Medicine Brain Tumor Board to discuss each patient’s diagnosis on an individual basis, arriving at the most appropriate treatment plan for each person. We treat all patients, whether they are newly diagnosed or have already received extensive treatment. We are readily available to off er second opinions for patients from all over the country, and rapidly accommodate our patients for prompt evaluation and initiation of care.

Diagnosis

Understanding the tumor is important for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Smilow Cancer Hospital has state-of-the-art technology to diagnose brain tumors with accuracy and detailed information, including 3 Tesla MRIs off ering more sophisticated testing, such as functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and positron emission tomography (PET). Experienced neuroradiologists read all brain scans and evaluate the images for diagnosis.

Once the tumor is sampled, a team of board-certifi ed neuropathologists with special expertise in the morphologic and molecular diagnosis of brain tumors off er defi nitive diagnosis. Their expertise is commonly sought for second opinions from other institutions. Importantly, all brain tumors that are biopsied or removed at our Center undergo whole exome sequencing, the most advanced technique available for tumor characterization. As one of the leaders in the world with the use of this technology, we are able to understand tumors at a molecular level and to better target the tumor’s
vulnerabilities in each patient.

Medical Oncology

In addition to neurosurgical evaluation, all of our patients are assessed for the need of specialized oncology treatment. Many brain tumors require chemotherapy, targeted therapies, or other medical treatments, often combined with radiation therapy and surgery. Our team of Neuro-Oncologists have extensive expertise in delivering exceptional oncology treatments for brain tumor patients, with a focus on achieving optimal efficacy and maximal safety. Each patient is evaluated and offered an individualized and coordinated treatment plan, taking into consideration the tumor type, molecular and genomic information on the tumor, and the patient’s own needs and choices.

Our Neuro-Oncologists are also internationally renowned for developing new treatments for brain tumors; our patients have first-hand access to cutting-edge clinical trials exploring multiple novel strategies to fight brain cancer. Our Neuro-Oncologists are continually working closely with Yale laboratory researchers throughout the institution, to rapidly translate scientific discoveries into meaningful treatments for brain tumors.

Radiation Oncology

Established as one of the original Radiation Oncology departments in the country in 1958, the Yale Department of Therapeutic Radiology has played a foundational role in the national development of radiotherapy as a cancer treatment. Building on this long tradition of excellence, our internationally renowned Radiation Oncologists provide specialized and innovative radiotherapy through a multitude of scientific and translational research endeavors. For our patients with brain tumors, we have the capability to deliver radiation therapy using multiple cutting-edge platforms, such as the Novalis Tx linear accelerator with BrainLab/ExacTrac guidance and the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon. In particular, our Gamma Knife program is regarded as a national leader in the treatment of primary and metastatic tumors. The Icon is one of the most advanced brain radiosurgery devices in the country, with the capability of frameless treatment delivery. In addition to multi-institutional clinical trials, we off er unique bench-to-bedside clinical trials for patients with primary and metastatic brain tumors. In close collaborations with our Neuro-Oncology team, patients receiving radiation therapy at Yale have access to unique clinical trials aimed at improving the treatment efficacy through novel drug combinations.

Neurosurgical Oncology

Removing as much tumor as safely as possible is a benefit for patient survival and outcomes. Our primary goals are always to establish a diagnosis and to remove as much of the tumor as safely as possible, while preserving brain function. To achieve this goal, Yale Neurosurgical Oncology combines highly specialized neurosurgeons with state-of-the-art facilities and technology. Our internationally renowned neurosurgeons are exclusively dedicated to brain tumor surgery. They perform the most number of brain tumor surgeries in Connecticut, and routinely treat traveling from afar. Functional mapping and neurophysiology monitoring, sophisticated techniques used during microsurgery, allow our brain tumor surgeons to protect critical brain structures during tumor removal, ensuring safety and success. One example, our neurosurgeons are masters of “awake” surgery. Reserved for select patients, this well-documented technique allows the surgeons to remove tumors located in high functioning parts of the brain, while the patient is comfortable. The collaboration with specialized neuroanesthesiologists is critical for these more technically challenging microsurgical procedures to be performed, allowing tumors previously declared “inoperable” to be safely removed. In addition to unparalleled surgical expertise, the use of intraoperative ultrasound and intraoperative MRI, the latter being the state’s only MRI actually located within the operating room, provides our neurosurgeons with real-time feedback, so they can ensure as much tumor can be removed during surgery. Smilow Cancer Hospital’s unique intraoperative hybrid angiography suite also allows our surgeons to decrease the tumor’s blood supply making surgery even safer. Our brain tumor 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. Importantly, following the surgery, our specialized ICU’s are equipped with the latest techniques to ensure a smooth recovery. Our surgeons are also one of the first groups nationally to off er 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 to supply heat treatment to the tumor 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 to other cancer treatment.

Support Services

Our Brain Tumor Center places great emphasis on taking care of all our patients’ needs by complementing the best medical care available with a network of supportive care services. Our nurses and physician assistants are specialized in meeting the unique needs of patients with brain tumors. Social workers help ensure psychosocial support is provided to patients and their families throughout treatment. Our neuropsychology clinic administers memory and other neurologic function tests, and provides cognitive rehab and treatments to improve memory, cognitive function and quality of life in patients with brain tumors. Other available resources for our patients and/or families include nutritional counseling, physical therapy, art therapy, and pastoral support. Patients can apply for financial support, provided to our Center by generous donations, that can help off set expenses during treatment. A comprehensive binder is provided to our patients, allowing them to better navigate our Center and their care. A dedicated Brain Tumor Support Group is held monthly for patients and their families and provides the opportunity to share common concerns related to brain tumors, such as treatment issues, adjustment, coping mechanisms, illness, and family and caregiver issues. In addition, more specialized brain tumor support groups are also offered quarterly. Finally, for the convenience of patients and families coming from afar, the nearby Suites at Yale New Haven is a comfortable facility offering extended stay accommodations.

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule an appointment with the Brain Tumor Center, please call