Our Approach & Expertise
Physicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering have extensive experience caring for patients with brain metastases and tend to treat these tumors aggressively — and in so doing, can often extend patients’ lives and improve their quality of life.
Team Approach to Care
Memorial Sloan Kettering takes a team approach to treatment, bringing together experts in highly specialized areas of cancer care. Some 30 physicians with expertise in neuropathology, neuroradiology, neurosurgery, neuro-oncology, radiation oncology, and rehabilitation work together to diagnose and treat patients who have brain metastases. Having a multidisciplinary team collaborating on treatment from the very beginning optimizes patient care.
Members of the team meet weekly to review and discuss each patient’s case and treatment plan. They are joined by other specialists who work to meet the nonmedical needs of both patients and their caregivers, including those who provide psychosocial support.
At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we have a dedicated team of nurses that cares for patients with brain tumors during outpatient visits and inpatient hospital stays. Each nurse — who has knowledge and experience treating patients with brain tumors — works in collaboration with one primary physician to oversee each patient’s care. This allows our nurses to assess a patient’s needs, triage symptoms, and if necessary, make referrals to other departments within Memorial Sloan Kettering, such as integrative medicine, nutrition, and social work. Nurses help patients understand the details of the treatment plan and what to expect throughout the course of treatment. They also are actively involved with teaching both patients and their families about brain metastases and their treatment, and provide educational materials as needed.
As the liaison between patients and physicians, nurses play an important role in the team approach to care offered at the Center.
Pioneering Treatments & Technology
Many new approaches to treatment of brain metastases either originated at Memorial Sloan Kettering or are offered to eligible patients through our clinical trial process.
To help plan surgery, we use imaging techniques — such as functional MRI and diffusion tractography — that can map areas of the brain, including speech and motor centers. (See below for additional information about these techniques.)
Our radiation oncologists use intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) to treat brain tumors. IMRT, which is one of the most advanced and precise radiation treatment techniques, uses radiation beams of varying intensity created to match specific tumor angles and shapes so that the tumor is targeted as precisely and uniformly as possible. This helps to reduce the dosage of radiation to healthy tissues and possibly the side effects of treatment.
Novel chemotherapeutic approaches include clinical trials evaluating new combinations of drugs and new agents designed to target metastases in the brain.
Our Surgical Expertise
Our surgeons offer patients the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment technologies available. Our surgical expertise combined with these advanced technologies enables us to treat brain tumors with the best therapies currently available.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is one of a few hospitals in the country that has an intraoperative imaging suite equipped with a high-field strength MRI scanner in the operating room. Performing brain surgery in this setting enables the neurosurgeon to reevaluate the tumor with MRI during the operation, allowing for increased surgical precision and a reduced need for a second surgery.
Our Brain Tumor Center
In addition to providing our patients the very best care available, our physicians and scientists are working to improve the ways in which we diagnose and treat metastatic brain tumors. Fostering collaboration between Memorial Sloan Kettering’s clinical and research arms, the Brain Tumor Center generates research and preclinical data on primary brain tumors and metastatic tumors to the brain. This, in turn, promotes the translation of basic science and preclinical data into clinical trials.
Work undertaken through the Brain Tumor Center builds on initiatives already underway at Memorial Hospital and the Sloan Kettering Institute, including research that offers promising new leads in understanding the basic biology of tumors that affect the nervous system
For more information, visit the Brain Tumor Center section of our Web site.
Focus on the Patient
At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best way to provide care for patients and family members coping with a diagnosis of a metastatic brain tumor. Our medical staff understands that having a tumor that affects the brain or spinal cord can be overwhelming, and we are always available to help address the needs and concerns of our patients and their family members.
Memorial Sloan Kettering offers a broad range of psychosocial support programs designed to help patients and family members cope with the spectrum of issues related to life during and after treatment. For more information about the support services we offer patients with brain tumors, their families, and caregivers, visit the Follow-Up Care & Support Services section of our Web site.