Specialists from different disciplines work together under the umbrella of the Brain Cancer Center to provide patients and referring physicians with uncomplicated access to highly qualified brain tumor diagnostics and treatment. The first step is a rapid and comprehensive diagnosis, followed by the presentation of the findings to our interdisciplinary Cancer Board. The available treatment methods are discussed and a therapy approach adapted to the patient’s expectations is developed.
The focus is on providing patients with comprehensive information and care; in addition to medical treatment, this includes a wide range of other therapy options such as psychological support and physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Zunächst geht es um eine zügige und umfassende Diagnostik, daran schliesst sich die Vorstellung der erhobenen Befunde in unserem interdisziplinären Tumorboard an. In diesem werden die zur Verfügung stehenden Behandlungsmodalitäten diskutiert und ein an die Vorstellungen der Patientin, des Patienten angepasstes Therapiekonzept erarbeitet.
Im Zentrum steht die umfassende Information und Betreuung der Patientin, des Patienten; dies beinhaltet im weiteren Krankheitsverlauf neben der ärztlichen Behandlung auch ein breites Spektrum an zusätzlichen Therapieangeboten wie z.B. psychologische Begleitung sowie physio-, ergo- und logotherapeutische Massnahmen.
Symptoms and diagnoses
In principle, we differentiate between tumors that originate from the brain tissue itself (primary tumors) and tumors of brain appendages, such as the meninges, as well as colonies of other tumors (metastases) in the brain. This distinction is important because it results in fundamental differences in treatment options and individual prognoses.
This type of primary brain tumor is characterized by rapid and destructive growth in the brain. Those affected are usually of middle to advanced age. Symptoms are often acute failure of brain function, such as speech or motor function.
This primary brain tumor is characterized by slow growth, usually over a period of many years. This may cause brain function to shift to other areas of the brain (brain «plasticity»). Younger patients and middle-aged patients are often affected, with epileptic seizures being the first symptom.
These tumors originate from the hard meninges of the brain, are usually slow-growing and do not infiltrate the brain. As a result, they can often be completely removed surgically. Mostly, patients of middle to advanced age are affected, and this is occasionally a random finding in the context of the investigation of other diseases. The range of symptoms is diverse and includes neurological deficits, epileptic seizures and personality changes.
Tumors from other organs can also settle settle as secondary tumors in the brain. Brain metastases can by solitary, in one place, or multiple, in several places in the brain. This distinction is important for deciding which therapy methods are promising and suitable.
Pituitary gland tumors
These tumors often become conspicuous in the longer term with deterioration of vision and/or hormonal disorders, for example by causing changes in body proportions or milk flow in non-lactating women. Acute problems may occur, for example, due to bleeding within the tumor, which can cause rapid vision loss.
Tumors of the base of the skull or the cerebellum bridge angle
Often these are vestibular schwannoma, i.e. benign tumors that originate from the balance nerves and grow into the base of the skull. Symptoms are often one-sided hearing reduction or even hearing loss, tinnitus caused by the anatomical proximity to the auditory nerve, and/or balance disorders and dizziness.
The most common form of treatment is surgery. Radiation and chemotherapy are also available. In special cases, there are also other treatment options, such as nuclear medicine methods, alternating electric fields, etc. Due to our research activities in brain tumor research, many patients also have the opportunity to participate in a treatment study.
The aim of surgical tumor treatment is ideally the complete removal of a tumor. In cases where this is not possible, for example due to invasive tumor growth, the aim is to reduce the tumor mass as much as possible. Various electrophysiological procedures are used to protect important brain functions during surgery. In the case of certain tumors, it makes sense to remove the tumor while awake.
In some cases, radiotherapy is the most promising form of tumor treatment. In many cases, radiation is used after surgery to treat residual tumor tissue. Radiation can also be used to treat regenerative tumors in surgically difficult-to-access areas.
In the case of brain tumors, chemotherapy is often used in combination with radiotherapy as a follow-up treatment after surgery, especially in the case of primary brain tumors. This usually involves the use of well-tolerated substances so that chemotherapy can be done at home in the form of pills. There are various other chemotherapy approaches for regenerating tumors that can be used without prior or accompanying radiotherapy or surgery.
The diagnosis of a brain tumor entails great uncertainty for both the affected patient and their family. We attach great importance to the ongoing involvement of family members and the promotion of the individual quality of life of each patient.
We focus on the following points:
- Close cooperation with speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, psycho-oncology
- Regular therapy meetings involving all specialists
- The nursing team is specially trained in pain, aphasia, communication and palliative care
Dr. Sandra Eckstein
Prof. Stephan Frank
Leitender Arzt und Fachbereichsleiter Neuro- und Ophthalmopathologie
Mitglied Tumorzentrum , Neuro- und Muskelpathologie, Molekularpathologie
Tel. +41 61 328 63 90
Prof. Jörg Halter
Prof. Heinz Läubli
Leitender Arzt / Leitung Klinische Forschung
medizinische Onkologie FMH, allgemeine Innere Medizin FMH, Mitglied Tumorzentrum, Forschungsgruppenleiter Tumorimmuntherapie, DBM und DKF
Hirntumore, Hauttumore, Thoraxtumore, Immuntherapie, Krebsimmunologie
Leiter IPM – Sozialdienst
Dr. Johanna Lieb
Kaderärztin, stv. Leitung Neuroradiologie, Mitglied Tumor- und MS-Zentrum
Radiologie und Nuklearmedizin
Tel. +41 61 328 65 93
PD Dr. Johannes Lorscheider
Stv. Leiter Neurologische Poliklinik, Multiple Sklerose Zentrum