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Patient Information

Central Nervous System (CNS) Tumors

When abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain and/or spinal cord, this can result in a primary malignant central nervous system tumor, also called brain and spinal cord tumors. More often, a cancer will begin in another part of the body and spread to the brain and spinal cord. This type of cancer is metastatic.

Patients diagnosed with central nervous system tumors, whether primary or metastatic, will receive responsive, individualized and innovative care at WakeMed Hematology & Medical Oncology — utlizing our multidisciplinary team approach. 

A range of treatments are available depending on the type of cancer. Since the brain and spinal cord control so many systems within the body, treatments and symptoms of central nervous system cancers may lead to unwanted side effects. We work with our advanced team of specialists in neurosurgery, integrative medicine, palliative care, pain management, rehabilitation and more to address any medical challenges you may face throughout the journey.

Diagnostics for Malignant Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

In addition to the testing listed below, if a patient is diagnosed with a central nervous system tumor, additional testing will be performed to determine the stage of the cancer.


  • Biomarker Testing
  • Biopsy


  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computed Tomography (CT) 

Types of Malignant Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

  • Astrocytic Tumors
  • Craniopharyngioma (Grade I)
  • Ependymal Tumors
  • Germ Cell Tumors
  • Oligodendroglial Tumors
  • Medulloblastomas
  • Meningeal Tumors
  • Mixed Gliomas
  • Pineal Parenchymal Tumors

Treatments for Malignant Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

  • Active Surveillance
  • Carmustine-Impregnated Polymer Implant (for glioblastomas)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Supportive Therapy
  • Surgery
  • Tumor Treatment Fields (TTF)