The Neuro-Oncology Program at The University of Tennessee Medical Center provides state-of-the-art treatment for patients with tumors (malignant and benign) of the nervous system, including the brain and spine. Led by James A. Killeffer, MD, our team provides expert care for patients who experience neurological complications from cancer, cancer therapies or related disorders. The team of skilled, board-certified and experienced physicians participates in a multidisciplinary approach to diseases of the brain and spine — neurologists and neurosurgeons treat conditions that may affect patients from diagnosis to treatment of brain and spinal tumors. The Cancer and Brain & Spine Centers of Excellence have a long and rich tradition of collaboration by minimizing cancer's impact on a patient’s quality of life. This collaborative team includes radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists who work together to plan a course of treatment that is unique for each patient. The division also conducts clinical trials aimed at trying to improve outcomes.
Clinical trials are research studies that involve people. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat diseases. View a list of the current Clinical Trials or call 865.305.9773.
Randi R. Ray, RN, BSN, OCN at 865.305.3633.
Neuro Oncology Nurse Navigator
Our Neuro-Oncology Nurse Navigator is available from the time of patient’s diagnosis to serve as a liaison in providing one-on-one support for patients and their families throughout their journey. The Nurse Navigator assists in coordinating and implementing patient care activities by keeping in close contact with the patient and family to provide information and support, coordinating tests and treatment, and assisting them with decisions regarding care. Our Nurse Navigator also participates in multi-disciplinary Neuro-Oncology Tumor Conferences and coordinates treatment plan according to conference recommendations.
Neurosurgeons in the Brain and Spine Institute use advanced, image-guided techniques, including navigation in the traditional operating room, brain mapping, and intraoperative imaging, to provide minimally invasive treatment and improved quality of life for patients. They work closely with specialists in the Cancer Institute to perform sophisticated and comprehensive preoperative planning.
At the University of Tennessee Medical Center, our board certified medical oncologists are experts in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of cancer including solid tumors and hematologic malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma. A medical oncologist is a physician who specializes in the medical treatment of cancer with chemotherapy as well as biological and hormonal therapy. Our medical oncologists work closely with the multidisciplinary oncology team to determine an individualized care plan and to coordinate the patient’s care. Evidence based treatment guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and other peer-reviewed, nationally recognized organizations are used as guidelines to ensure adherence to clinical practice standards (“best practices”) and to optimize the quality of care and patient outcomes.
A radiation oncologist is a board certified physician who uses radiation to treat cancer. Radiation can be given to cure cancer either alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy. It may also be given to relieve symptoms. In some cases, radiation may also be used to treat benign tumors. Our highly experienced team of radiation oncologists offer multiple treatment options including 3D conformal radiation, intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), rotational RapidArc therapy, high and low dose brachytherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery utilizing the CyberKnife. The radiation oncologists are part of the multidisciplinary team that reviews each patient’s case to determine an individualized treatment plan for each cancer patient.
The Neuro Critical Care Service is neuro-intensivist based and directed by the Department of Anesthesiology. This specially trained team of anesthesiologists, mid-level providers and nurses focus on the care of patients who, for a variety of diagnoses, need time to recover in a critical care environment. Our team of neurointensivists have special training and expertise in the evaluation and treatment of acute and emergent neurologic disorders. Neurointensivists work closely with colleagues in neurologic surgery, oncology, and neuroradiology to deliver comprehensive care for patients with these disorders.
A team of board-certified neuropathologists in the Cancer Institute Neuro Tumor Program use all contemporary methods for diagnosing brain tumors, including immunohistochemistry, molecular profiling, and electron microscopy. Neuropathologists are also actively engaged in research studies in neuro-oncology and work closely with world renowned neuropathologists for complex cancer consultations.
The Neuroradiology subspecialty supervises and interprets CT and MRI scans relating to the brain, orbits, and spine. Radiologists in this subspecialty perform a variety of diagnostic procedures, including magnetic resonance angiography, 3-D rendering of scan images, cerebral angiography, myelography, CT-myelography, spine biopsies, nerve blocks, facet joint injections, and discograms.
Neurointerventional radiologists see some of the most complex blood vessel conditions in the brain and spine. These physicians use minimally invasive procedures to treat intricate cases in the shortest amount of time—cases that until recently were considered untreatable. The University of Tennessee Medical Center offers the latest technology in the neurointerventional biplane suite, which is a state-of-the-art treatment environment, converting instantly from a neurointerventional radiology suite to a microsurgical suite for vascular brain surgery.
The University of Tennessee Medical Center holds two brain and spine tumor conferences every month. This conference consists of multi-disciplinary physicians and surgeons who review patient cases and address the needs of brain and spine tumor patients.
After evaluation of clinical reports, radiology studies, and pathology materials, treatment recommendation options are made for each patient. These may include surgery, radiation therapy, and standard or investigational chemo therapies. This multi-disciplinary approach leads to highly coordinated and expert quality patient care, as well as superior patient satisfaction.