Experts who work in a neuro-oncology center treat patients with cancers of the nervous system. This makes neuro-oncology part of both neurology and oncology.

Overview

Neurooncology - Further information

What is a neuro-oncology center?

The medical sub-field of neuro-oncology covers malignant and benign diseases affecting the nervous system. Therefore, the type of patients seeking a neuro-oncology center have a brain tumor or a tumor of the central nervous system, for example.

In Germany, there are no specialist doctors specializing in neuro-oncology. This is why a neuro-oncology center has doctors working in it representing a variety of different medical disciplines. A neurologist is a specialist in diseases of the nervous system. By way of contrast, oncologists concentrate on prevention, diagnostics, therapy and aftercare of cancer conditions.

Neurologists and oncologists frequently cooperate in the neuro-oncology center with other medical and social professional groups. For example, many neuro-oncology centers have interdisciplinary teams composed of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists or social workers.

Which disorders are treated in a neuro-oncology center?

Neuro-oncology specialists treat patients with both benign and malignant tumors of the brain, the spinal cord and the spinal membranes. Brain metastases, which can occur in other types of cancer, are also part of the treatment program.

A neuro-oncology center is also the right place for patients to consult in the event of a paraneoplastic syndrome (a rare disorder triggered by an altered immune system response). In this case, the tumor is not located in the nervous system, though it does impact on nerve function.

Among the diseases treated in a neuro-oncology center are the following:

  • Gliomata
  • Medulloblastomata
  • Astrocytomata
  • Neurocytomata

Diagnostic techniques in neuro-oncology

To make a reliable diagnosis of a tumor of the nervous system, it is commonly necessary to apply several diagnostic techniques. A vital role is played here by imaging techniques such as X-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance tomography (MRT).

However, and especially with an initial diagnosis, even where a tumor is clearly visible, a biopsy (taking a tissue sample) remains an indispensable procedure. The pathologist examines the tissue sample and assesses whether or not cell changes are present. Also, by using the biopsy, the pathologist can tell whether the tumor is a primary or a metastatic tumor.

Ever more commonly, doctors also apply positron emission tomography (PET) to reach a diagnosis. Unlike CT and MRT, PET can also enable statements on the metabolic activity of the tumor.

Treatment techniques in the neuroendocrinology center

The type of therapy always depends on the type of tumor and the localization of the cancer growth.

Chemotherapy is one of the central pillars of cancer therapy. Here, patients receive chemotherapeutic agents intended to halt the proliferation of cancer cells. These medications are also known as cytostatics.

A further important treatment technique is radiotherapy. Unlike chemotherapy, this does not act systemically, but locally. In this technique, the cancer cells are damaged by ionizing radiation or by particle radiation. This is intended to reduce the size of the tumors or even make them disappear completely.

Depending on localization and size, a surgeon will remove the tumor. If necessary, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be applied before surgery, to reduce the size of the tumor. Also, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be used after surgery to eliminate any remaining degenerate tissue.

So, in a neuro-oncology center you are in good hands if you are suffering from a cancer disease of the nervous system or if such a disease is suspected.