If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you may be wondering what the treatment options are and what the future holds. Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute is one of the few programs in Pennsylvania to have a neuro-oncologist. This neurology specialist focuses on cancers of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. We are the only cancer center in the region, and one of a few in the country, participating in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance. This membership helps you receive world-class care, including clinical trials and the latest cancer treatments, close to home.
We hold regular tumor boards, cancer care meetings where experts from multiple disciplines meet to discuss your diagnosis and treatment so you get care that is tailored to your needs.
Brain tumor care at LVHN
We treat a range of brain tumors including: glioblastoma multiforme, gliomas, medulloblastoma, meningiomas, pituitary tumors and schwannoma. It is important for you to know that you will receive comprehensive support during your treatment. Your team includes a care navigator who explains your options, helps you schedule appointments and connects you with resources. At LVHN, you will find:
Advanced diagnosis for brain tumors
A precise diagnosis is the first step toward the right treatment. Our diagnostic tests may include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Functional MRI (fMRI) localizes speech and/or motor functions in the brain
- Molecular pathology examines the tumor’s molecular makeup for genetic mutations that we can target with treatment. This information also helps us determine if you are eligible for a clinical trial.
- Surgical techniques allow us to remove part or all of the tumor for analysis.
Brain tumor board
A tumor board is a cancer care meeting to discuss each patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan. The tumor board includes many doctors who are fellowship-trained in their fields:
- Neurosurgeons are specialists in brain tumor surgery.
- Radiation oncologists plan radiation therapy treatments.
- Neuro-oncologists are specialists in chemotherapy and other medications to treat brain tumors.
- Neuroradiologists perform imaging scans for people with brain tumors.
- Neuropathologists specialize in diagnosing brain and spinal cord tumors.
- Clinical trials coordinator helps manage participation in clinical research.
Regional leaders in navigated surgeries
We have exceptional expertise in monitoring brain function during surgery so we can preserve neurological function.
We perform intraoperative navigation and intraoperative functional monitoring during brain surgery. This technique enables us to protect the areas of the brain responsible for speech and movement.
Minimally invasive surgery for brain tumors
Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive procedures to remove tumors. Real-time monitoring during your procedure helps us safely navigate surgical instruments near delicate brain structures. These surgeries use smaller incisions and miniature instruments.
Neurosurgery techniques include:
- High-resolution endoscopic surgery provides detailed visualization of the brain, so we can avoid harming healthy tissue.
- Awake craniotomy with speech mapping is the most precise way to remove a tumor. You remain awake, and we ask you to speak during surgery so we can protect the area of the brain responsible for speech. Craniotomy and motor mapping is the best way to avoid arm or leg weakness after surgery
- Fluorescence-guided brain tumor resection (Gleolan™)is a surgical technique that uses an FDA-approved optical imaging agent called Gleolan™ (aminolevulinic acid hydrochloride, ALA HCL). With fluorescence-guided resection, brain tumors and their vasculature are made visible with the combination of Gleolan and a special microscope filter. Typically, brain tumors can have finger-like projections that interface with normal brain tissue. With fluorescence-guided resection, our neurosurgeons will be able to better identify tumor tissue that may be hidden within healthy brain tissue.
Additional brain tumor treatments
Gamma Knife® Icon™ radiation therapy
Gamma Knife Icon is a safe, precise option for treating even hard-to-reach brain tumors. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the first hospital in the area to offer this sophisticated technology. Gamma Knife Icon, the latest and most advanced model of Gamma Knife, delivers focused radiation beams to the tumor and avoids radiation exposure to healthy tissue. You are awake during the procedure, and you are able to leave the hospital the same day.
Our team is specially trained in performing Gamma Knife procedures. The neuro-oncology team will help you determine if this is the best treatment for you.
Our surgeons are involved in leading-edge clinical research for brain tumors, which offers you additional opportunities for treatments that include radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or chemotherapy, in conjunction with surgical care.
We also are the only cancer center in the region participating in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance. Our membership gives you access to clinical care practices that are years ahead of other locations, including sophisticated genetic testing that helps identify best treatments for care. Read more about our membership in the MSK Cancer Alliance.
We use one or more cancer drugs to control tumor growth. Our neuro-oncologist directs your care, which may include chemotherapy treatments, bloodwork and imaging. We also manage any symptoms resulting from tumors or treatment. Find out more about chemotherapy.
After having neurosurgery for a brain tumor, our neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU) would provide post-surgery care. We have the only NSICU in the region. This unit is staffed by fellowship-trained neuro-critical care physicians and certified neuroscience nurses who provide excellent, evidence-based care after surgery.
Many patients also benefit from rehabilitation following neurosurgery. Our rehabilitation for spine and neurological conditions program offers both inpatient rehabilitation, as well as outpatient rehabilitation services