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Video: Neurosurgery Services at SouthwesternDr. Clinton Baird, Medical Director of Neurosurgery Services, discusses how the neurosurgery program benefits neurological cancer patients with integrated treatment to help them cope with physical, psychological and emotional challenges.
Neurosurgery Services at Southwestern
Dr. Clinton Baird, Medical Director of Neurosurgery Services, discusses how the neurosurgery program helps neurological cancer patients cope with the physical, psychological and emotional challenges of the disease.
If you are dealing with a neurological cancer or another cancer that has spread to your nervous system, CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center (Southwestern) offers advanced technology and expertise.
Neurological Cancers We Treat
The Neurosurgery Services Department at Southwestern provides innovative treatment options for the following:
- Primary brain tumors
- Metastatic brain tumors
- Primary spinal cord or column tumors
- Metastatic spinal tumors
- Tumors near the spinal column or peripheral nerves
- Neurologic problems resulting from other cancers or treatments
Understanding Neurological Cancers
The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system (CNS). Cancer can begin in the CNS or, more commonly, it can spread there.
Primary brain tumors are tumors that form from cells within the brain. Some types of primary brain tumors include: glioblastoma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioima, oligoastrocytoma, ependymoma, and medulloblastoma.
Metastatic brain tumors are tumors that spread (metastasize) to the brain from another location in the body, such as the lung, colon, breast, or kidney. Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.
Primary spinal cord or column tumors are tumors that form from cells within the spinal cord itself or from its surrounding structures. Most tumors of the spine are metastatic tumors, which spread to the spine from another location in the body.
Experienced Neurosurgical Team
If you have primary or metastatic brain or spinal cord cancer, it’s important to be seen by an integrated team of physicians with expertise in performing cancer-related surgical procedures on the nervous system and its supporting structures, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and spinal column.
At Southwestern, you’ll find an expert multidisciplinary neurosurgical team that includes: a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, pathologist, psychologist, rehabilitation therapist, and other cancer experts across a variety of disciplines.
Led by Director of Neurosurgery Services Dr. Clinton Baird, the neurosurgical team works together to understand your individual needs and provide advanced, fully integrated treatments.
An Accurate Diagnosis
An effective cancer treatment plan begins with an accurate diagnosis. When you arrive at Southwestern, your care team will review your symptoms with you and obtain a health history. Then, we’ll use advanced imaging technology to evaluate the tumor(s), such as MRI, PET scans, and/or CT scans.
We may also obtain tissue in the form of a biopsy or, sometimes, full surgical resection of the tumor. Once we determine the location, type and grade of the tumor, we can plan your individualized treatment.
Advances in Treatments & Technologies
Our comprehensive neurosurgical treatment program includes a full range of options for primary and metastatic cancers of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves, as well as neurological problems resulting from other cancers.
Brain surgery and spinal surgery typically focuses on removing the tumor in its entirety. In the past, the surgeon would make large incisions to remove the tumor. Today, we’re often able to use more minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Where possible, endoscopy, which positions a camera next to the brain tumor, may allow for smaller surgical incisions while still allowing for complete tumor resection. The following are some potential advantages:
- Improves speed of recovery
- Lessens pain during recovery process
- Allows other cancer treatments to resume sooner
- Helps patient return to normal activities more quickly
In addition, Dr. Baird uses some of the most sophisticated tools for intraoperative electrophysiology "brain mapping" and intraoperative neuronavigation. Both tools help enhance the safety of brain tumor treatment.
Significant advancements have been made in both the delivery of local chemotherapy and chemotherapy that's given orally or intravenously. Our doctors can deliver chemotherapy locally to the brain (also known as Gliadel®, or BCNU, wafers) at the time of surgical resection. Since chemotherapy is administered as close as possible to the brain tumor edges at the resection area rather than systemically (through the veins), this technique may help to reduce typical chemotherapy-related side effects.
Our doctors can also use Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), presently under investigational use, to deliver radiation directly to the area of the tumor resection. This may help to avoid damage to surrounding normal structures, particularly the scalp and the skin on the scalp. It may also allow for higher doses of radiation to be delivered along the edges of the tumor while sparing areas of the brain without the tumor.
In addition, instead of surgical intervention, we can sometimes use Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT) to treat metastatic brain cancer, particularly for tumors in more than one location. This may help to avoid the pain, discomfort and recovery time associated with surgery.
Preserving Mobility & Controlling Pain
Neurological cancers in the brain and spine, or neurological problems caused by other cancers, can present unique challenges compared to other types of cancer.
For example, spinal cord compression can cause pain and make it difficult to walk or move the legs. Neurological dysfunction can also interfere with your ability to communicate with others and cause depression.
Our cancer experts recognize the importance of helping you control pain and maintain your mobility so you can follow your treatment regime without complications like pneumonia, other infections or even paralysis.
Here, you’ll receive integrated care that addresses all the possible conditions and challenges that are unique to your situation. With therapies like surgery and radiation, the neurosurgical team can alleviate pain and help you maintain your mobility, which can mean anything from daily walks to just being able to use the bathroom or get out of bed.
In addition to delivering the latest technology for brain and spinal cancer, your care team will also provide the other essential components of care, including nutritional, physical and emotional support.