Cancer Information

Brain Tumors: Team Members and Common Terms

The members of your health care team will work with you during the course of your treatment. They help guide you through your treatment choices, address your questions and concerns, and give you support. Following are some of the people who make up your health care team, and some of the words you may hear:


Members of Your Team

  • A medical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing cancer and treating it with chemotherapy.
  • A neurologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats diseases of the nervous system.
  • A neuro-oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating tumors of the nervous system.
  • A neurosurgeon is a surgeon who operates on brain tumors and other problems of the nervous system.
  • A nurse provides patient care, teaching, and support.
  • A nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist is a nurse with special training. He or she may help the doctor in managing a patient’s symptoms, adjusting medications, and performing medical exams.
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists help patients improve strength and motor skills, relearn daily tasks, and improve language and swallowing skills.
  • A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in using radiation therapy to treat cancer.

Words You May Hear

Benign: slow-growing, not cancerous.

Intracranial pressure (ICP): pressure within the brain.

Malignant: growing quickly, cancerous.

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: located where it started growing— the original tumor as opposed to one that spread from somewhere else in the body.

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