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. This is a doctor who treats diseases related to the glands of the endocrine system. These glands include the thyroid, pineal, and pituitary glands.

  • Medical oncologist. This is a doctor who diagnoses cancer and treats it with chemotherapy and other medicines.

  • Neurologist. This is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the nervous system.

  • Neuro-oncologist. This is a doctor who treats tumors of the nervous system. A neuro-oncologist can be a medical oncologist, neurologist, or neurosurgeon.

  • Neurosurgeon. This is a surgeon who operates on the brain, the spine, and the peripheral nerves. 

  • Nurse. This is a healthcare provider who provides patient care, teaching, and support.

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

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists. These are specialists who help patients with strength and motor skills. They help patients relearn daily tasks, such as language and swallowing skills.

  • Radiation oncologist. This is a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer.

  • Residents and interns. These are doctors in training. They are allowed to prescribe medicine. But they usually consult with more experienced doctors called the attending physicians.

  • Physician assistant (PA). These are healthcare providers who help in your care. They can also prescribe medicine.

  • Social workers. These are healthcare providers who have special training in dealing with the social, emotional, and other problems that may come with illness or disability. Social workers help to connect patients and their families with resources and medical contacts outside the hospital. 

Words you may hear during treatment

  • Benign. This means not cancer. It can also mean slow-growing.

  • Chemotherapy. This is a treatment for cancer using medicines.

  • Intracranial pressure (ICP). This is the pressure of the fluid within the brain

  • Malignant. This means cancer. It can also mean fast-growing.

  • Metastatic (or secondary). This refers to a tumor that has spread from somewhere else in the body.

  • Necrosis. This means dead tissue

  • Nervous system. This is the brain and spinal cord, and the nerves branching from them.

  • Pathology. This is the study of changes in the cells of the body that cause or are a result of disease.

  • Primary. This refers to the original tumor.

  • Radiation therapy. This is a treatment for cancer using various forms of radiation. The radiation may be given inside or outside of the body, or both.

  • Stereotactic. This is a method to locate sites in the brain using imaging scans, a computer, and special tools.