The Neuro-Oncology section is focused on the treatment of patients with malignant tumors of the central nervous system (CNS). Such tumors include, but are not limited to, glioblastomas, anaplastic gliomas, low-grade gliomas, brain metastases, meningiomas, neoplastic meningitis, and spinal cord tumors. In addition to these tumors, we also treat and manage patients with neurologic complications of cancer, including peripheral neuropathy, seizures, and quality-of-life patient issues.
The Neuro-Oncology clinical program is based in the Annette G. Strauss Center for Neuro-Oncology. This is a multidisciplinary program that includes neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuropathologists, neuroradiologists, and physiatrists. The clinical program is centered in the UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, to provide specialized neuro-oncologic care in the outpatient setting. The Neuro-Oncology Clinic at Parkland Hospital was established in 2020 to provide specialized clinical care for brain tumor patients in the hospital setting.
The Neuro-Oncology section is involved in basic science, translational, and clinical research projects involving collaborations with numerous programs within UTSW, including Neurology, Neurosurgery, Neuropathology, Neuroradiology, Radiation Oncology, and the Department of Advanced Imaging Research Center. Neuro-Oncology clinical trials include Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4 experimental therapeutic trials encompassing several central nervous system tumor subtypes.
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Since its inception, the Neuro-Oncology section has been fully committed to educational endeavors. Neuro-Oncology principles have been taught to trainees at multiple levels. There are two medical student electives offered in Neuro-Oncology (one for MS3 students and one for MS4 students). The electives are open to students in the UT Southwestern Medical School, as well as visiting students from external medical schools. PGY-1 Neurology residents are required to rotate in the Neuro-Oncology resident clerkship throughout their internship year. Hematology-Oncology fellows have the opportunity to rotate in the outpatient Neuro-Oncology clinics at Simmons Cancer Center as well as Parkland Hospital. The section has a United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS)-accredited Neuro-Oncology fellowship, which serves not only to train future academic neuro-oncologists, but also to further the educational mission of the section by having the Neuro-Oncology fellows actively participate in the training of medical students and residents.
The Neuro-Oncology section is committed to providing comprehensive, compassionate, efficient, and high-quality care to patients and their families. The most common CNS tumors we treat include:
- Anaplastic Gliomas (Astrocytomas and Oligodendrogliomas)
- Low-Grade Gliomas (Astrocytomas and Oligodendrogliomas)
- Brain Metastases
- Neoplastic Meningitis
- Spinal Cord Tumors
- Neurocutaneous Syndromes (e.g., Neurofibromatosis types I and II, von Hippel-Lindau disease)
- Neurologic Complications of Cancer
The Neuro-Oncology section offers a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic services, including advanced MRIs (diagnostic and research), lumbar punctures (spinal taps), intrathecal chemotherapy administration via Ommaya reservoir, and neurological exams.
The Neuro-Oncology section collaborates with multiple disciplines dedicated to the care of CNS tumor patients, including Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, through direct subspecialty provider communication as well as through our weekly Neuro-Oncology Tumor Board conferences. We also interface with patient services within the Simmons Cancer Center, such as Palliative Care, Apheresis, and the Cancer Center's infusion center. We collaborate with the pediatric oncologists at Children’s Health in Dallas to treat pediatric CNS tumors diagnosed in adult patients.
The Neuro-Oncology section works closely with the Simmons Cancer Center Social Work team and Psychology team to provide counseling for emotional support and guidance to patients and families. Also, the Oncology Social Work team provides support regarding home care services, information for patient and caregiver support groups, psychosocial assessments, and assists with transitions of care planning.
The Bachoo Lab is the primary translational research laboratory for brain tumor research at the Annette G. Strauss Center for Neuro-Oncology. The lab works closely with a multidisciplinary team of basic scientists and clinical collaborators across multiple departments and institutions, focusing on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that drive malignant brain tumors and extending these findings to clinical translation. In pursuit of these goals, the lab developed multiple genetically engineered mouse models that genocopy mutational profiles of brain tumors and created one of the largest collections of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models in the United States. These molecularly- and clinically-defined models serve as basic discovery platforms to understand fundamental mechanisms that drive brain growth and identify potential therapeutic vulnerabilities. For example, building on work in our preclinical models using in vivo 13C-isotope tracer studies, we were the first to use stable isotope tracing intra-operatively and identify the metabolic pathways that fuel brain tumor growth in neuro-oncology patients.
The Neuro-Oncology section has two medical student electives: Exploration of Neuro-Oncology (Course NEUR 2001) for third-year medical students, and Neuro-Oncology Clerkship (Course NEUR 2102) for fourth-year medical students. PGY-1 residents in the UTSW Neurology residency program rotate throughout their intern year in the Neuro-Oncology Residency Clerkship. The section also has a UCNS-accredited Neuro-Oncology Fellowship Program.