Neuro-Oncology Program


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. Our skilled, board-certified and experienced physicians participate in a multidisciplinary approach for the management of diseases involving the brain and spine.

The Cancer and Brain & Spine Centers of Excellence have a long and rich tradition of collaboration to minimize cancer’s impact on a patient’s quality of life. The Neuro-Oncology Tumor Conference is held twice monthly and each patient case is reviewed and individual treatment plans are recommended by the team.  The conference is attended by neurosurgeons, neurologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, navigators and support staff who work together to plan a course of treatment that is unique for each patient. The division also conducts clinical trials offering the latest treatment options aimed at trying to improve patient outcomes.

Our Services

We provide the latest treatments and techniques for our patients.

Conditions Treated

  • Acoustic Neuromas
  • Glioma
    • Astrocytoma
    • Ependymoma
    • Glioblastoma
    • Oligodendrogliomas
  • Meningioma
  • Metastatic Tumors
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Skull Base Tumors
  • Spinal tumors

Treatment Options

  • Brain Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Spine Surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques
  • Radiation
    • True Beam
    • Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)


Neuro Oncology Nurse Navigator

Our Neuro-Oncology Nurse Navigator is available from the time of the 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, answer questions, 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 plans 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.

Medical Oncologists

At the University of Tennessee Medical Center, our board certified medical oncologists are experts in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of cancer including those of the brain and spine. 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.

Radiation Oncologists

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, and stereotactic radiosurgery for brain and spine tumors.  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.

Neuro Intensivists

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 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

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.

Other Specialists

Neurology & Neuroanesthesiology

Contact Us

Neuro-Oncology | 1924 Alcoa Hwy, Box 52  | Knoxville, TN, 37920 | Susan Cole, Nurse Navigator | 865-305-3633