Brain Tumors: Team Members and Common Terms

You are being treated for a brain tumor. During this time, you will have a healthcare team. The members of this team will work with you. They will help guide you through your treatment choices. They will address your questions and concerns. And they will give you support. Below is a list of who may be on your healthcare team. Below you will also find a list of words you might hear during the course of your care.

Members of your team

  • Endocrinologist. A doctor who specializes in diseases related to the glands of the endocrine system including the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands.

  • Medical oncologist. A doctor who diagnoses cancer and treats it with chemotherapy and other medicines.

  • Neurologist. A doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the nervous system.

  • Neuro-oncologist. A doctor who treats tumors of the nervous system. Neuro-oncologists can be medical oncologists, neurologists, or neurosurgeons.

  • Neurosurgeon. A surgeon who operates on the brain and other parts of the nervous system.

  • Nurse. A person who provides patient care, teaching, and support.

  • Nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist. A nurse with special training. The nurse may help the doctor manage a patient’s symptoms. He or she may adjust medidcines and give medical exams.

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Specialists who help patients with strength and motor skills. They help patients relearn daily tasks, including language and swallowing skills.

  • Radiation oncologist. A doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer.

  • Residents and interns. These are doctors in training. They are allowed to prescribe medicine, but usually consult with more experienced doctors (called the attending physician).

  • Physician assistant (PA). Healthcare professionals who help in your care. Sometimes they will prescribe medicine.

  • Social workers. These healthcare professionals have special training in dealing with the social, emotional, and environmental problems that may come with illness or disability.


Words you may hear during treatment

  • Benign: Slow-growing, not cancerous

  • Chemotherapy: A treatment for cancer using intravenous (IV), intramuscular (IM), or oral medications

  • Intracranial pressure (ICP): Pressure within the brain

  • Malignant: Growing quickly, cancerous

  • Metastatic (or secondary): This refers to a tumor that has spread from somewhere else in the body as opposed to one originating in the brain

  • Necrosis: Dead tissue

  • Nervous system: The brain and spinal cord, and the nerves branching from them

  • Pathology: The study of changes in the cells and organs of the body that cause or are a result of disease

  • Primary: Refers to the original tumor as opposed to one that spread from somewhere else in the body

  • Radiation therapy: A treatment for cancer using various forms of radiation, internally, externally, or both

  • Stereotactic: A method of locating specific sites in the brain using computer software, a headframe, and imaging tests

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