8 brain tumor treatment questions, answered

A brain tumor diagnosis and treatment can bring many questions. That’s why John de Groot, M.D., co-leader of our Glioblastoma Moon Shot™, and Jeffrey Weinberg, M.D., recently took time to answer questions submitted online by brain tumor patients and caregivers. Here are their responses to eight of the top questions we received about brain tumor treatment. What treatment options are available for patients facing a brain tumor recurrence? Weinberg: If there’s a mass that can be safely removed, we remove it. This may alleviate symptoms and allows us to verify whether it’s truly a recurrence, or something else (like dead tissue) that just looks like a tumor on the MRI. Removing the tumor tissue also allows us to perform molecular analysis to see if the patient is eligible for a clinical trial. What if my brain tumor is inoperable? Weinberg: Whether a brain tumor is operable depends on its size, location, the symptoms it’s causing and the experience of the operating team. We perform many second opinions for patients with “inoperable” tumors. Because of the experience of our neurosurgeons and the technology available at MD Anderson, we’re able to safely operate on many tumors that would be considered inoperable somewhere else. We also have options to treat inoperable tumors without physically removing them, including laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT).  How and why are low-grade gliomas treated differently than more aggressive brain tumors like glioblastoma? de Groot: “Low-grade glioma” typically refers to a grade II astocytoma or oligodendroglioma. Several recent Phase III clinical trials have shown that oligodendroglioma is very treatable and that patients with this disease can live for...