Brain Cancer and Central Nervous System Tumors

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At the Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center, our specialists treat brain cancers and any central nervous system tumor. Find out more about our leading-edge care and how to get a second opinion.

Any mass locked within the confines of your skull or spinal column is very serious. Whether it’s brain cancer, spinal cancer or any benign tumor, it is taking away space from the tissue you need to think, walk, feel, smell, taste and live life. If it hasn’t infringed on your ability to function, it likely will soon.

At the Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center, our specialists treat spine and brain cancers and any central nervous system tumor.

As a collaboration of Norton Cancer Institute and Norton Neuroscience Institute, our providers treat a comprehensive range of brain cancer types using sophisticated techniques, the latest equipment and vast experience with successful results.

The Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center on the campus of Norton Brownsboro Hospital is the region’s only comprehensive brain tumor center of its type. One location allows patients to schedule multiple appointments for the same day.

Our providers — neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists and more — work side by side. A team of physicians and other providers meets regularly to review each case. All viewpoints are offered, allowing patients to get the benefit of multiple specialties. These meetings are like getting a third, fourth or fifth opinion built into your care.

You are encouraged to get second opinions after our diagnosis, and we are ready to help other centers review your case. You are the most important person in your brain tumor care. Understanding your treatment options is an important step on your path to recovery.

We also welcome the opportunity to provide an opinion if you’ve received a brain tumor diagnosis. Fill out our secure form, and we’ll be in touch within three business days.

A glioblastoma survivor and his wife look to the future

John and Jessica Bostock were at an exciting time in their lives when John was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Six years later, John is a glioblastoma survivor.

Read John and Jessica’s Story

Get a Second Opinion

Our brain cancer and central nervous system tumor specialists have received intensive training at leading research institutions. They are at the forefront of brain tumor care and are principal investigators in many clinical trials. As investigators, our physicians often have years of experience with therapies that have been newly approved for broad use.

Our specialists’ clinical expertise means patients can receive leading-edge treatment without having to travel outside the Louisville area with their families to get effective brain tumor treatment.

Advances in immunotherapy, which uses the body’s immune response to target cancer cells, is showing positive results improving brain cancer survivorship in clinical trials at Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center and elsewhere.

The five-year relative survival rate for brain and other central nervous system cancers is estimated to be 33.8% by the National Cancer Institute. Relative survival is an estimate of how long a patient could be expected to survive the effects of their cancer and excludes risk if dying from other causes.

Brain cancer survivorship can vary widely based on the type of cancer and how far it has progressed.

Brain Tumor Patient Support

As a Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center patient, you’ll have access to the Norton Cancer Institute Resource Centers and Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Centers. Patients and their families get comfort, support and information as they wrestle with their diagnosis. The services are available at no cost and include emotional support and educational counseling groups, massage, art and music therapies, and so much more.

A neuro-oncology patient navigator assists patients and their families with the challenges that come with a brain tumor diagnosis. Our patient navigator is a registered nurse who advocates for patients and families. Information and support helps you through your diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Patient navigator services are free and available as needed by patients and families.

A brain cancer diagnosis upends your world. The Norton Cancer Institute Behavioral Oncology Program is designed to provide patients dealing with brain tumors and their families emotional and psychological care.

Brain Cancer and Brain Tumor Symptoms

Headache is the most common symptom of a brain tumor, but we all get headaches. If your headaches are persistent and wake you up at night, you should talk to a medical provider. If you don’t have a history of chronic headaches or migraine, but suddenly get headaches that become more frequent and painful over a few days or weeks, talk to a medical professional.

Common Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer Types

Some of the most common primary brain tumors — these originate in the brain rather than spread from cancer elsewhere in the body — are gliomas. About a third of all brain tumor types are gliomas. Gliomas can be malignant or benign brain tumors. Gliomas also can occur in the spinal cord.

Gliomas form in the glial cells that support neurons. Types of glioma include glioblastoma and astrocytoma.


Among brain tumors that originate in the brain — primary brain tumors — rather than spread there from other parts of the body such as the lungs, glioblastoma is the most common type. It’s fast-growing and requires an early response. When caught early, there are encouraging signs that it can be successfully addressed. Advances in treatment, including immunotherapy clinical trials at the Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center are raising hopes that survivability can improve.


Some astrocytoma tumors are benign, while some are cancer. Either way, you’ll need a brain tumor team with experience and expertise to provide precision and skill in your treatment.

Astrocytoma, a primary brain tumor, needs to be removed surgically. Additional cancer treatment may be needed, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.


Chondrosarcoma is a malignant bone cancer that can start in the spine, face or skull base at the back of the head as well as other parts of the body. Chondrosarcoma can be aggressive and fast growing.


Lymphoma forms in the lymphatic, or immune, system, which includes the lymph nodes. Lymphoma can be a primary brain tumor, starting in the brain, or spread from other parts of the body to form a metastatic brain tumor. Primary brain lymphomas are rare and may require a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Often they are treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Brain Cancer Treatments

We fuse multiple imaging modalities such as MRI, CT or positron emission tomography (PET) scans to ensure optimal accuracy when targeting brain masses. This helps us destroy brain tumor cells while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy brain tissue.

Brain Cancer Chemotherapy

In addition to advancements in conventional chemotherapy, the Norton Healthcare Brain Tumor Center is actively involved in the search for immunotherapy treatments for brain cancer. Our physicians routinely take part in clinical trials of new and innovative treatments that use the body’s immune system to target brain cancer cells.

Brain Tumor Treating Fields

Tumor treating fields (TTF) deliver an electric field to the outside of the patient’s head intended to disrupt tumor cells’ ability to grow and spread.

Also known as alternating electrical field therapy, brain tumor treating fields attempt to disrupt tumor cells’ ability to grow and spread by delivering an electric field to the outside of the patient’s head.

Newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients appear to benefit if the tumor treating fields are combined with chemotherapy treatments and radiation therapy.

Brain Cancer Surgery

NeuroBlate laser interstitial thermal therapy uses real-time MRI to guide a laser probe, offering precision to destroy abnormal tissue while doing as little harm as possible to surrounding healthy tissue. Norton Healthcare has been using NeuroBlate longer than any provider in the region.

Brain Cancer Radiation Therapy

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) using TrueBeam technology is an innovation on the much older Gamma Knife and CyberKnife platforms. TrueBeam SRS does not require surgical attachment of a head frame for treatment. Combined with improved localization and increased particle energy, patients can cut treatment times by up to 80%.
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is an advanced brain tumor treatment that customizes beams of radiation to match the shape of a brain tumor. IMRT increases the safety and efficiency of each radiation dose.
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses images taken before your treatment to plan the application of powerful radiation beams to kill cancer cells. Using advanced imaging to precisely plan the target of the energy beams can allow for higher doses, fewer treatments and less risk of damage to normal cells.

Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer Clinical Trials

Talk with your brain tumor team about whether a clinical trial is right for you.

Brain Cancer Team

Why Choose Norton Cancer Institute

More patients in Louisville and Southern Indiana choose Norton Cancer Institute than any other provider in the area. We provide compassionate care for the whole person, not just the cancer.

Our Norton Cancer Institute oncologists are also researchers and principal investigators, offering patients sophisticated experience in the latest treatments and access to more than 200 clinical trials.

  • Access to more than 100 specialists, including board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists
  • Multidisciplinary setting, meaning you get the benefit of opinions from multiple specialists across Norton Healthcare and often can schedule appointments for the same day in the same location
  • Immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy, genetic therapies tailored to combat the unique genetic makeup of your cancer and the latest in surgical treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • State-of-the-art Norton Cancer Institute Genomics Lab offering highly specialized testing that makes it possible to tailor advanced treatments based on a tumor’s specific genetic composition
  • Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy for minimally invasive lung biopsies that can reach more parts of the lung without major surgery
  • Medicare, Medicaid and most major commercial insurance accepted
  • At Norton Specialty Pharmacy, patients receive regular consultations on their medications and treatment plan, making sure they get their prescriptions quickly and accurately. Our specialty pharmacists collaborate closely with your oncology team.
  • Use your free Norton MyChart account to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions, get on the wait list for an earlier appointment and more anytime from a mobile device or computer

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