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Brain tumours

If you are concerned about a neurological condition and are worried it could be brain cancer, we are able to offer you the newest techniques and therapies to treat this disease.

Through our affiliation with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, you will have access to our team of highly experienced neurosurgeons who see more than 500 patients a year with brain tumours and other neurological cancers. We have a track record in offering pioneering treatments which have helped to improve the clinical outcome for hundreds of patients.

Our expert team is highly regarded and is regularly called upon to share expertise in the national and international media, including Radio 4 and the BBC2 ‘Hospital’ documentary.

Your care will be overseen by a highly-skilled multi-disciplinary team of experts with a vast range of experience in both benign and malignant brain and spinal tumours. Your team will work closely together to present you with a treatment plan specially tailored to you and your condition.

With their guidance, you will be central to any decision taken about your care and our team will ensure that you are involved in your treatment plan every step of the way.

The very best cancer care

We are able to offer you the very best of care through our centre for brain tumours at Charing Cross Hospital because:

  • Our pioneering approach to treatment and highly-specialist clinicians mean we have some of the best brain tumour survival rates in the country.
  • We are one of the few centres in the country which offers an integrated approach to brain tumour treatment, with all of the services necessary for your care located on one site.
  • We have introduced new approaches to treatment including pioneering surgical techniques and the latest drug therapies through our close links with the world-renowned Imperial College research institution.
  • We recruit more brain tumour patients into clinical trials than anyone else in the UK, and our involvement in research means you will have quicker access to the newest treatments and an opportunity to take part in trials of new therapies where appropriate.
  • We helped develop the use of advanced MRI in risk-stratification in gliomas and have led world-first trials in PET imaging in brain tumours which helps to distinguish low grade tumours from more aggressive ones. This allows us to select which bit of the tumour to biopsy, leading us to a better understanding of the tumour, meaning we can tailor treatment appropriately for each patient.
  • We were the first centre in the world to offer combined use of the iKnife (intelligent knife) and Raman spectroscopy during surgery for brain tumours. Both techniques allow real-time analysis of tissue in surgery which differentiates the cancerous tissue from non-cancerous tissue, and helps to target the surgery much more effectively.
  • We are one of the few UK centres to routinely offer a second round of radiotherapy to people with relapsed brain tumours. In some cases we also add immunotherapy, a novel treatment which uses the human body’s natural response to fight against the cancer cells. By combining re-irradiation with immunotherapy the tumour cells are damaged by the radiation which allows the immune system to target those cells more effectively.
  • Your treatment will be discussed during our specialised multidisciplinary team meetings to ensure you have the best and most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Your diagnosis

Once you are referred to us for private treatment, you will be looked after by an expert consultant-led team of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, neurologists, specialist nurses, and radiologists.

Our specialists will immediately run a series of tests to diagnose your condition. You will benefit from the latest diagnostic and imaging tools including high-tech MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and PET (position emission tomography) which will provide detailed images of your brain so that we can diagnose your condition accurately.

We routinely perform advanced MRI imaging (MRI spectroscopy and physiological scans), and can also use FDG and Choline PET scans which measure the uptake of sugar and products of metabolic reactions to help distinguish active disease from previously treated areas.

A multidisciplinary team of experts will review your scans and test results as soon as possible, and make recommendations for your personalised treatment plan. All of these results and recommendations will be shared with you, and you will be involved in any decision making about your future treatment.

Your treatment options

We treat a wide range of primary and secondary brain tumours. These include both benign and malignant tumours, such as gliomas, glioblastoma, ependymoma, pineal tumours, acoustic neuromas (schwannomas) and meningioma.

We treat secondary brain tumours (metastases) which have spread from another cancer to the brain or spine, and have a wide range of treatment options, including surgery, vertebroplasty and stereotactic radiotherapy (LINAC and gamma knife).

Stereotactic radiotherapy can be used instead of conventional radiotherapy to treat certain tumours and metastases. This delivers a high-dose of precisely-targeted radiation to the cancerous cell which helps to preserve healthy tissue.

The main treatments are:

Surgery:
We usually recommend surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible in an operation called a craniotomy.

Our highly-skilled neurosurgeons will be able to treat you using the latest state-of-the-art equipment.

We use intra-operative ultrasound which involves high-tech imaging of your brain during the operation. This will ensure that the surgeon accurately removes as much of the tumour as possible.

Radiotherapy:
You may need radiotherapy after surgery to remove any remaining cancer cells. We can offer you the latest in radiotherapy technology including IMRT (intensity modulated radiotherapy) and cranial stereotactic radiotherapy, a highly complex radiotherapy treatment for certain types of brain tumour which targets the tumour very precisely. For more information please visit the radiotherapy section of our website.

Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy:
If it will be an effective option for you, we can also provide chemotherapy (anti-cancer drugs) as well as innovative radiotherapy and drug combinations and combining radiotherapy with immunotherapy (drugs which harness the immune system to destroy cancer cells).

Supportive care and rehabilitation

You will be able to access to a range of therapy services to help you recover following surgery, as well as expert symptom management. We have facilities for in-patient rehabilitation, and links with a variety of out-patient rehabilitation services which you may be able to access in your own home.

Research

We are proud of our track record in ground-breaking research to improve brain tumour treatments from trialling novel drugs to new surgical techniques.
We have been instrumental in the development of the iKnife, a pioneering ‘intelligent’ knife which uses technology to tell the surgeon in real time whether tissue is cancerous or not during an operation. This helps the surgeon to remove more of the tumour without damaging healthy tissue, potentially leading to faster surgery and better cancer survival rates.

We have also carried out research into other techniques to improve the accuracy of surgery, such as Raman spectometry which uses lasers to identify cancer cells during operations.

Our involvement in a broad clinical trials programme means you will have access to up-to-date treatments and the best approaches to treating your cancer.

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