Neuro-Oncology Program Services

The Neuro-Oncology Program team at Mayo Clinic in Florida provides comprehensive treatment, including neurosurgery, radiation oncology and medical neuro-oncology. In addition, supportive care involving social services and counseling, neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric services, physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain management are provided when appropriate.

The following provides an overview of specific programs and services:

Neurosurgery
Radiation Oncology
Medical Neuro-Oncology
Neuroradiology

Neurosurgery

Our neurosurgeons use a variety of frame-based and frameless stereotactic, computer guidance systems to pinpoint brain tumors, improving safety and accuracy for patients requiring surgical removal of brain tumors. The guidance system allows three-dimensional referencing while performing challenging biopsies deep in the brain and removing tumors in the eloquent cortex. Patients usually have less post-operative discomfort because these techniques limit the size of the incision and craniotomy and protect critical brain structures. Stereotactic approaches also diminish anesthesia time and hospital stay.

Lasers are sometimes used to remove tumors. In some cases, tumors can be removed using endoscopic techniques. New, innovative surgical techniques, such as gene therapy, also are available under research protocols.

Stereotactic techniques are also used to deliver postoperative radiotherapy, both fractionated and via X-knife (stereotactic radiosurgery). This precise delivery system has diminished the use of whole-brain radiotherapy in some cases, thus minimizing side effects of radiation, including dementia.

Radiation Oncology

The Department of Radiation Oncology evaluates and treats about 100 patients a year with primary or metastatic central nervous system cancers, including spine and spinal cord tumors.

The department is accredited by the American College of Radiology. Radiation oncologists work closely with medical oncologists, surgeons and other physicians to coordinate care for each cancer patient.

Services include:

  • State-of-the-art linear accelerators
  • Three-dimensional conformal treatment planning
  • Radiosurgery to treat brain tumors
  • Treatment with radioactive implants
  • Multidisciplinary treatment combining radiation with surgery and chemotherapy
  • Availability of research protocols

Medical Neuro-Oncology

The medical neuro-oncology section offers comprehensive care, including management of necessary chemotherapy or biologic therapy, as well as medical disorders arising with the tumor or related treatments. A careful and compassionate approach is the motto of the medical neuro-oncology health care team, which includes physicians, nurses and case manager/social workers. Because new treatments constantly develop, there may be several options for patients at different points in their disease process. The pros and cons of each applicable option is discussed in detail during treatment planning. Our goal is to improve the duration and quality of survival. Every effort is made to tailor the treatment program to the individual needs of the patient and family.

When appropriate, the individual patient's problem and case history are presented and discussed at a multidisciplinary tumor board, comprised of specialists in fields of neurosurgery, medical neuro-oncology, radiation oncology, neuroradiology and neuropathology. This interactive format results in the best treatment plan based on input from several experts. A patient may see several Mayo Clinic specialists who will work in coordinated fashion to provide the high quality, integrated care for which Mayo Clinic is known.

Each year, the Medical Oncology Program at Mayo Clinic in Florida has more than 1,700 new patient visits and more than 10,000 returning patient visits. About 500 patients with cancer and neurological complications are seen each year. Additionally, 150 patients with primary central nervous system cancers are evaluated and treated annually. The clinic has an experienced outpatient chemotherapy infusion center that does more than 10,000 treatments per year.

The medical neuro-oncology physicians have nearly 20 years experience in treating patients with nervous system tumors and are actively involved in clinical trials of new therapies. Clinical trials include those originating at Mayo Clinic and those are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute through the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG). Selected high quality trials from industry sponsors and conventional treatments are also available. Whenever possible, the medical neuro-oncology team encourages and makes efforts to integrate care from a patient's local physician and oncologists to offer the most comprehensive management.

Neuroradiology

The Department of Radiology at Mayo Clinic in Florida has 28 full-time staff radiologists, 3 full-time staff physicists and 83 technologists. More than 130,000 exams are done in the department each year. In the Neuroradiology section, there are six fellowship-trained neuroradiologists and one fellowship-trained interventional neuroradiologist.

State-of-the-art equipment includes five high-field-strength (1.5 Tesla) MRI scanners. PET scanning is accomplished with special, dual-headed coincidence imaging gamma camera. The department is in the process of acquiring a second PET scanner, which will be a full ring dedicated PET scanner.