Q. A family member has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and I want to make sure he is going to get the best care possible. How can I find out about the best places that treat brain tumors?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a treatment center, and it’s important to weigh all of your options before deciding which treatment center is right for you or your loved one. While many treatment centers provide excellent care for patients diagnosed with cancer, you will want a center that has experience treating brain tumors. Important questions to ask include:
- How many brain tumor patients does the treatment center diagnose and treat per year?
- How many tumors has your doctor treated and what are your doctor’s credentials?
- Does the treatment center have a specialized neurology department including neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, rehabilitation therapists, as well as other specialists?
- Does the treatment center have a brain tumor board (a board of specialists who regularly meet to discuss patients, their treatment and their overall health)?
- Does the treatment center have the appropriate technology to provide optimal care including imaging equipment?
- Does the treatment center participate in clinical trials? Clinical trials are research studies that provide new treatments to patients through medications or other therapies. These studies answer important medical questions related to cancer treatments and also may provide important health benefits to patients participating in the trial.
Rehabilitation services are also an important part of treatment for patients diagnosed with brain tumors. Patients may experience temporary or permanent changes in speech, memory or motor skills as a result of the tumor. Rehabilitation therapy can help tremendously with these side effects. Rehabilitation specialists include speech therapists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Questions to ask the treatment center include:
- What rehabilitation services are provided?
- If services are not provided at the treatment center, what referrals does the center provide?
Comprehensive care is an important factor when choosing a treatment center, as a brain tumor diagnosis can affect many aspects of a patient’s life. The idea behind comprehensive care is that all of the patient’s needs are treated, which can include financial, medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. You may want to ask:
- Aside from medical treatment, what other comprehensive services does the treatment center provide?
- Does the treatment center provide support services to both patients and caregivers including counseling, support groups and spiritual support?
- Are workshops, literature related to care or other learning possibilities available at the treatment center?
- Is financial support or referrals for financial assistance available?
For further information on finding a treatment center please contact the following organizations:
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers a database of NCI-designated cancer treatment centers organized by state.
- Society for Neuro-Oncology provides a database of brain tumor centers organized by name of institution.
- National Brain Tumor Society maintains a comprehensive website dedicated to helping patients and families diagnosed with brain tumors. Read their fact sheet, Issues to Consider When Choosing a Treatment Center
And finally, these CancerCare publications might be helpful: