Brain Cancer

A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Doctors now know that brain tumors fall somewhere along a spectrum of benign and malignant.

There are 150 different types of primary brain tumors. The most common of these include:

  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Astrocytoma
  • Glioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Lymphoma
  • Neoplastic meningitis

Treatment

There are many treatment options if you have a brain tumor. Treatment usually begins with surgery. Surgery to diagnose a tumor is called a biopsy. Surgery to remove a tumor is called resection.

When tumor removal is needed, we first perform a procedure called a craniotomy. Your surgeon will create a window in the skull to reach the tumor. We use the most advanced surgical techniques for the greatest safety and results. Tumors often called “inoperable” become operable with these techniques. A craniotomy is not necessary for all patients with a suspected brain tumor. Sometimes your doctor can make a diagnosis with a minimally invasive stereotactic biopsy.

After surgery, many brain tumor patients will require chemotherapy and/or radiation. 

Services We Offer

Our neurosurgery and neuro-oncology team offers the most advanced techniques and technologies including:

  • Surgery 
  • Awake functional mapping
  • Minimally invasive techniques
  • Endoscopic endonasal approaches
  • Advanced neuroimaging
  • Chemotherapy
  • Intrathecal (IT) chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Laser ablation
  • Vaccine and immunotherapy

Diseases We Treat 

We treat the following brain-related conditions: 

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.

Dawit Aregawi, MD Dawit Aregawi, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Joseph Drabick, MD Joseph Drabick, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Elana Farace, PhD, MA Elana Farace, PhD, MA Neuropsychologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Robert Harbaugh, MD Robert Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
G. Timothy Reiter, MD G. Timothy Reiter, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Sather, MD Michael Sather, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
James McInerney, MD James McInerney, MD View Researcher Profile

Locations

Penn State Neuroscience Institute

Penn State Neuroscience Institute

30 Hope Dr
Suite 1300
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-3828

Clinical Trials

A Pilot Study to evaluate the pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and resistance profile to trametinib and dabrafenib in BRAF-V600E mutated recurrent gliomas
Standard Chemotherapy versus Chemotherapy Chosen by Cancer Stem Cell Chemosensitivity Testing in the Management of Patients with Recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). CSCRGBM

Groups, Classes and Support

Central Brain Tumor Support Group

This support group is for families and caregivers of patients during active treatment. We offer information, assistance and comfort.

Meetings are held bi-monthly from 11 a.m. to noon.

Location

Penn State Health East Campus
30 Hope Drive, Entrance A
Hershey, PA 17033
Room 1710 A/B - Handicapped accessible 

Registration

Reserve your spot by calling 717-531-4384.

Questions

C.W. Smith
Phone: 717-599-5416

Prevention and Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, there are no known ways to prevent most brain tumors. Limiting radiation exposure may reduce your risk. Uncontrollable risk factors include family history and certain medical conditions. 

There is currently no recommended screening for brain tumors in people with no symptoms.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Symptoms

Tumor size and location, how far it has spread, and brain swelling can affect symptoms. The most common symptoms of brain tumors are:

  • Changes in mental function
  • Changes in vision
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Weakness in one part of the body

Headaches caused by brain tumors may:

  • Get worse when you wake up in the morning and clear up in a few hours
  • Get worse with coughing, exercise or a change in body position
  • Occur during sleep
  • Occur with vomiting, confusion, double vision, weakness or numbness

Other symptoms can include:

  • Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness and coma)
  • Changes in hearing, taste or smell
  • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
  • Eye problems such as eyelid drooping, uncontrollable eye movement and vision difficulties 
  • Hand tremor
  • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • Loss of balance or coordination, clumsiness, trouble walking
  • Muscle weakness in the face, arm or leg (usually on just one side)
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
  • Personality, mood, behavior or emotional changes
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking 

Diagnosis

The following tests can be used to diagnose and locate a brain tumor:

Outlook & Prognosis

Brain tumors range in behavior from harmless to very aggressive. This is why the outlook for patients can vary. Finding the brain tumor early and seeking treatment at a specialized brain tumor center provides the best outcomes.

Brain Cancer

A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Doctors now know that brain tumors fall somewhere along a spectrum of benign and malignant.

There are 150 different types of primary brain tumors. The most common of these include:

  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Astrocytoma
  • Glioma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Lymphoma
  • Neoplastic meningitis

There are many treatment options if you have a brain tumor. Treatment usually begins with surgery. Surgery to diagnose a tumor is called a biopsy. Surgery to remove a tumor is called resection.

When tumor removal is needed, we first perform a procedure called a craniotomy. Your surgeon will create a window in the skull to reach the tumor. We use the most advanced surgical techniques for the greatest safety and results. Tumors often called “inoperable” become operable with these techniques. A craniotomy is not necessary for all patients with a suspected brain tumor. Sometimes your doctor can make a diagnosis with a minimally invasive stereotactic biopsy.

After surgery, many brain tumor patients will require chemotherapy and/or radiation. 

Services We Offer

Our neurosurgery and neuro-oncology team offers the most advanced techniques and technologies including:

  • Surgery 
  • Awake functional mapping
  • Minimally invasive techniques
  • Endoscopic endonasal approaches
  • Advanced neuroimaging
  • Chemotherapy
  • Intrathecal (IT) chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Laser ablation
  • Vaccine and immunotherapy

Diseases We Treat 

We treat the following brain-related conditions: 

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.

Dawit Aregawi, MD Dawit Aregawi, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Joseph Drabick, MD Joseph Drabick, MD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Elana Farace, PhD, MA Elana Farace, PhD, MA Neuropsychologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Michael Glantz, MD, PhD Neuro-oncologist View Researcher Profile
Robert Harbaugh, MD Robert Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Kimberly Harbaugh, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD Heath Mackley, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
G. Timothy Reiter, MD G. Timothy Reiter, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Elias Rizk, MD, MSc Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Jennifer Rosenberg, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematologist/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Michael Sather, MD Michael Sather, MD Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
Leonard Tuanquin, MD Leonard Tuanquin, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Henry Wagner Jr., MD Henry Wagner Jr., MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Brad Zacharia, MD, MS Neurosurgeon View Researcher Profile
James McInerney, MD James McInerney, MD View Researcher Profile
Penn State Neuroscience Institute

Penn State Neuroscience Institute

30 Hope Dr
Suite 1300
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-3828
A Pilot Study to evaluate the pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and resistance profile to trametinib and dabrafenib in BRAF-V600E mutated recurrent gliomas
Standard Chemotherapy versus Chemotherapy Chosen by Cancer Stem Cell Chemosensitivity Testing in the Management of Patients with Recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). CSCRGBM

Central Brain Tumor Support Group

This support group is for families and caregivers of patients during active treatment. We offer information, assistance and comfort.

Meetings are held bi-monthly from 11 a.m. to noon.

Location

Penn State Health East Campus
30 Hope Drive, Entrance A
Hershey, PA 17033
Room 1710 A/B - Handicapped accessible 

Registration

Reserve your spot by calling 717-531-4384.

Questions

C.W. Smith
Phone: 717-599-5416

According to the American Cancer Society, there are no known ways to prevent most brain tumors. Limiting radiation exposure may reduce your risk. Uncontrollable risk factors include family history and certain medical conditions. 

There is currently no recommended screening for brain tumors in people with no symptoms.

A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Symptoms

Tumor size and location, how far it has spread, and brain swelling can affect symptoms. The most common symptoms of brain tumors are:

  • Changes in mental function
  • Changes in vision
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Weakness in one part of the body

Headaches caused by brain tumors may:

  • Get worse when you wake up in the morning and clear up in a few hours
  • Get worse with coughing, exercise or a change in body position
  • Occur during sleep
  • Occur with vomiting, confusion, double vision, weakness or numbness

Other symptoms can include:

  • Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness and coma)
  • Changes in hearing, taste or smell
  • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
  • Eye problems such as eyelid drooping, uncontrollable eye movement and vision difficulties 
  • Hand tremor
  • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • Loss of balance or coordination, clumsiness, trouble walking
  • Muscle weakness in the face, arm or leg (usually on just one side)
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
  • Personality, mood, behavior or emotional changes
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking 

Diagnosis

The following tests can be used to diagnose and locate a brain tumor:

Outlook & Prognosis

Brain tumors range in behavior from harmless to very aggressive. This is why the outlook for patients can vary. Finding the brain tumor early and seeking treatment at a specialized brain tumor center provides the best outcomes.