Brain Cancer Treatment

After a biopsy confirms a malignant brain tumor diagnosis, the following UI Health physicians may collaborate on treatment options or become involved in a patient’s care:

These UI Health providers meet weekly during conferences to discuss each patient’s case and determine an appropriate care plan dependent on the patient’s age, functional status, and tumor grade and location.


The UI Health Brain Cancer Program offers many of the latest advancements in brain cancer treatment, including:


As long as resecting a tumor will not result in neurological injury, surgery is typically the first step in treating a malignant brain tumor. Advanced techniques available at UI Health include:

  • Functional MRI assists in the planning of surgical resection and radiation therapy by helping physicians understand where a tumor is located relative to critical areas of the brain.
  • Image-guided surgery enhances surgical precision by allowing physicians to better visualize and avoid critical structures during tumor resection.
  • Intraoperative brain mapping, also known as awake brain surgery, enhances surgical precision. Patients perform requested functions throughout the procedure, enabling physicians to better pinpoint areas key to functional status.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a key component of managing brain cancer in adults. Available radiation therapies include:

  • 3-D conformal radiation therapy
  • Hypofractionated radiation therapy
  • Image-guided and intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • Re-radiation for patients with tumor recurrence
  • Radiosurgery

Proton Therapy

During proton therapy, cancerous tissue is irradiated with a beam of protons. When necessary, patients are referred to specialty centers for this highly focused treatment.


For more than 50 years, researchers have been continually developing and administering medical therapies that are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier and killing cancerous tissues while preserving normal brain.

Clinical trials

Physicians may recommend clinical trials at the time of diagnosis or when standard therapies fail to effectively treat a cancer. UI Health participates in both institutional and national trials.


Management of metastatic brain cancer requires addressing the primary tumor that originated elsewhere in the body and the secondary brain lesion.

Standard chemotherapies used to treat many cancers originating outside the brain are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. Instead of chemotherapy, physicians may choose to manage metastatic brain lesions with:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgical resection, which is primarily indicated for large metastases