Brain and spine cancer
Brain tumours can be primary or secondary cancers. Malignant primary brain tumours start in your brain and may spread to other parts of your brain or spine. Malignant secondary brain tumours start elsewhere in your body and spread to your brain.
NHS Choices has more information about brain cancer.
What to expect at your appointment
After our specialist team has reviewed your history and the results of the tests and investigations you had at your local hospital, we usually call you to arrange your first appointment at King's.
This appointment can take between 45 minutes and two hours, and you may have more tests and investigations at King's on the same day or at a later date.
You will see one of our surgical team, usually a consultant, and your clinical nurse specialist (CNS), who will be your key worker during your care. They will explain your test and treatment options and support you and your family. You will also be given written information about the type of cancer you have, your treatment options, and other sources of support such as King's Macmillan Information and Support Centre.
The consultant will ask you about your symptoms, take your history, show you your scan images (if you would like to see them) and discuss your treatment plan with you.
If they think surgery is your best option, they will do some blood tests and take some swabs at this appointment. They will explain this surgery and may give you a date to come in for your operation. You may also see one of our anaesthetists so they can assess you before your surgery.
Tests and investigations
The type of investigations you have depend on where we think you may have tumour(s) and your medical history. They include:
- CT scan of your brain with contrast dye
- MRI scan of your brain with contrast dye
- PET scan at St Thomas' hospital
If we suspect the cancer has spread to other parts of your body you may also have:
If we suspect you have a tumour in your spine you may have:
Your care and treatment depends on the type cancer you have, its size and where it is, how far it has advanced (the stage) and your overall health. The final decision about what treatment you have is yours.
After our team of specialists reviews the results of your tests and investigations, we will arrange an appointment so you can discuss your treatment options with your consultant and clinical nurse specialist.
Your care usually includes one or more or a combination of treatments:
- Surgery to relieve your symptoms and to help us decide whether you need more treatment such as chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
- Radiotherapy at Guy’s & St Thomas’ or Maidstone, depending on where you live.
- Radiosurgery - a targeted form of radiotherapy - at Bart's Hospital or another healthcare provider
- Chemotherapy at Guy’s & St Thomas’ or Maidstone, depending on where you live.
Who to contact
At your first appointment, we will tell you who your key worker is, and how and when you can contact them. Your key worker is usually a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
Neuro-oncology clinical nurse specialists
Tel: +44 (0)20 3299 8141
Available: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Please visit your local GP or local Accident and Emergency department.
If you can’t contact your key worker
You can call King’s Cancer Helpline on +44 (0)20 3299 5228, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Your care will be provided by a group of experts called a multidisciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals specialising in treating your type of cancer. You can discuss your care with them and ask them any questions you have about your treatment. Our team members include:
- Dr Katia Cikurel
- Mr Keyoumars Ashkan
- Mr Ranj Bhangoo
- Mr Christopher Chandler
- Mr Richard Gullan
- Dr Beaney (St Thomas')
- Dr Brazil (St Thomas')
- Dr Nathan (Kent & Canterbury)
- Dr Sadler (Maidstone)
How we support you
We want to make sure that you get all the assistance you need to live well with – and after – cancer. There’s a wide range of support available to help you cope with cancer, including physical, emotional and practical advice for you, your family, friends and carers.