Neuro-oncology at Massey
With the only board-certified neuro-oncologists in the Richmond area, VCU Massey Cancer Center’s neuro-oncology team provides expert care for benign and malignant primary brain and spinal cord tumors, cancer metastatic to the nervous system, neurological complications resulting from cancer treatment and paraneoplastic syndromes.
Your premier provider for brain and neurological cancers
VCU Massey Cancer Center is ready to help if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor. Massey offers the only board-certified neuro-oncologists in the Richmond area. Just 1 percent of neurologists in the country subspecialize in the treatment of neurological cancers, and Massey has three of these subspecialists, who collaborate with a team of other leading neurological, neurosurgical and cancer specialists.
Massey features an award-winning medical team dedicated to caring for patients with benign and malignant primary brain and spinal cord tumors, cancer metastatic to the nervous system, neurological complications of cancer therapy and neurological paraneoplastic syndromes (remote autoimmune effects of cancer that are not directly caused by tumors and their metastases). We offer a level of cancer expertise and experience only found at the top 4 percent of cancer centers across the country recognized as a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. Massey is the only center in the Richmond area, and one of only two in Virginia, designated by the NCI to lead and shape America’s cancer research efforts.
Massey’s cancer care is provided through VCU Health at VCU Medical Center, which was recognized as the No. 1 hospital in Virginia by U.S. News & World Report (2012, 2013 and 2015). Massey partners with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to provide top-quality pediatric cancer care.
Hallmarks of Massey’s neuro-oncology program
Choose VCU Massey Cancer Center for your cancer treatment because our care is:
Our doctors have unparalleled knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating all types of brain and spinal cord tumors. As sub-specialists in neuro-oncology, they are specifically trained in and dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of neurological cancers.
Massey offers a full range of treatment options and scope of care, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment, recovery and long-term survivorship. We provide expert care for patients with benign and malignant primary brain and spinal cord tumors, cancer metastatic to the nervous system, neurological complications resulting from cancer treatment and paraneoplastic syndromes. Additionally, you have access to clinical trials testing new and promising treatments that are only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey. We also offer comprehensive support services that range from helping minimize symptoms and side effects to helping evaluate and cope with the cognitive, emotional and psychological effects of cancer.
Cancer care generally requires multiple forms of therapy and various specialized doctors. At Massey, our specialists collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to coordinate all aspects and stages of patient care and conveniently provide that care in one location. Massey pioneered the multidisciplinary approach to cancer care in our region. This approach combines the expertise of many doctors and ensures that you will receive the ideal combination and sequence of treatment.
Recognizing that each patient is unique and each type of cancer is different, Massey provides treatment strategies and care plans tailored and individualized to you.
Through respectful, attentive and compassionate care, Massey’s cancer care team builds healing relationships with you that help reduce suffering and death from cancer.
Advanced, comprehensive treatment options
VCU Massey Cancer Center offers the most advanced methods of evaluating both benign and malignant brain and spinal cord tumors, including precision imaging techniques and needle biopsies. In addition to standard treatment options such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, you have access to state-of-the-art treatments such as image-guided radiosurgery at VCU Health’s Trilogy Image-Guided Treatment Center, microscopic surgery, ultrasonic and laser techniques, targeted therapies and immunotherapy. Additionally, you have the opportunity to enroll in clinical trials testing new and promising treatments that are only available at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like Massey.
Additional advanced treatment options include:
Clinical trials – Massey offers a wide range of clinical trials for both newly diagnosed and relapsed patients – some trials that are not found elsewhere. Our trials test new anti-cancer therapies and ways to minimize common cancer-related symptoms. These trials provide access to investigational agents and innovative new therapies that may help increase the chance for successful treatment. Learn more about clinical trials.
NeuroBlate – NeuroBlate is an advanced medical procedure that utilizes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to place a small probe directly at the location of a tumor. A small laser inserted through the probe is then used to heat up and burn away live or dead tumor tissue. The environment on the opposite side of the tumor is cooled to prevent damage to healthy tissue. Learn more about NeuroBlate.
Optune – Optune is intended as a treatment for adult patients (22 years of age or older) with histologically-confirmed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM.) Optune is a wearable and portable, FDA-approved device that has been shown in clinical trials to safely deliver continuous therapy to the area of the brain where the GBM tumor is located. The device delivers therapy via electric currents through four adhesive patches that are applied to the scalp and worn for at least 18 hours a day. Optune does not enter the bloodstream, and it has not been shown to affect cells in other parts of the body. For patients with newly diagnosed GBM, Optune is used together with the chemotherapy temozolomide (TMZ). For patients with recurrent GBM, Optune is used alone. Learn more about Optune.
Stereotactic radiosurgery –Stereotactic radiosurgery uses numerous precisely focused radiation beams to deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor with minimal exposure to healthy surrounding tissue. Learn more about Stereotactic radiosurgery.
TrueBeam –The TrueBeam linear accelerator incorporates the latest image-guided radiation therapy technologies and higher dose rates to more accurately target tumors while sparing healthy tissue, reducing side effects and decreasing treatment times. With advanced imaging techniques, physicians can monitor and adapt to changes in a patient’s anatomy caused by the radiation therapy to personalize treatment plans based on each patient’s unique physiology. The optical camera system even allows physicians to see patient motion during treatments so they can monitor radiation delivery and adjust as needed. Learn more about TrueBeam.
Leaders in neurological cancers
Your medical team at VCU Massey Cancer Center has a depth and breadth of expertise and experience that is specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors. These specialists collaborate in a multidisciplinary team, which offers you the tremendous advantage of one-stop consultations and highly coordinated care. Many of our doctors are also researchers, continually investigating new and better treatment options and exploring ways to improve the patient care experience. And as Massey is part of a university medical center, our doctors are also professors, educating and training oncologists and other health care professionals. The constant treatment, study and teaching of brain cancers helps position our doctors as the leading experts in the field.
Select from the list below to learn more about your care team and their education, training and specific areas of clinical expertise.
Collins is the chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
Additional medical team members
- Dana Blake, N.P.
- Melissa Bolka, R.N.
- Jennifer Leonard, M.P.H., M.S.N., nurse patient navigator
- Heidi Miller, R.N.
- Candise Powell, Neuro-oncology administrative assistant
- Alison Ryan, N.P.
Others who may be part of your health care team include attending and resident physicians, fellows, palliative care specialists, rehabilitation specialists (physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists), social workers, genetic counselors, psychologists, chaplains, dieticians, care partners, clerks and other specialists as needed.
At VCU Massey Cancer Center, you’ll have access to the most advanced therapies and the latest technologies. Some of these therapies were discovered and developed right here at Massey, where our doctors collaborate closely with our research scientists to bring new research breakthroughs to our patients in the form of clinical trials.
Clinical trials are research studies that help discover new and better ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases. With one of the largest menus of cancer clinical trials in Virginia, we offer patients expanded treatment options and new hope every day.
The following are the neuro-oncology clinical trials currently available at Massey:
ACNS 0332 – Phase 3 trial, Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy in Treating Young Patients With Newly Diagnosed, Previously Untreated, High-Risk Medulloblastoma
ACNS 0831– Phase 3 randomized trial, Maintenance Chemotherapy or Observation Following Induction Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy in Treating Patients Ages 1 to 21 Years with Newly Diagnosed Ependymoma
CALGB-51101 – Phase 2 randomized trial, Myeloablative Versus Non-myeloablative Consolidation Chemotherapy (Combination Chemotherapy With or Without Autologous Stem Cell Transplant) in Treating Patients with Newly Diagnosed Primary Central Nervous System B-Cell Lymphoma (CNS BCL)
MCC-14816 – Phase 2 trial, Sorafenib, Valproic Acid and Sildenafil in Treating Patients with Recurrent High Grade Glioma
N0577 – Phase 3 intergroup trial, Radiation Therapy with Concomitant and Adjuvant Temozolomide versus Radiation Therapy with Adjuvant PCV Chemotherapy in Treating Patients with 1p/19q Co-deleted Anaplastic Glioma or Low Grade Glioma
NRG-CC001 – Phase 3 randomized trial, Memantine Hydrochloride and Whole-Brain Radiotherapy With or Without Hippocampal Avoidance in Reducing Neurocognitive Decline in Patients With Brain Metastases
NRG-CC003 – Phase 2/3 randomized trial, Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy With or Without Hippocampal Avoidance in Treating Patients With Limited Stage or Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer
RTOG-1119 – Phase 2 randomized trial, Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy with or without Lapatinib Ditosylate in Treating Patients with Brain Metastasis from HER2-Positive Breast Cancer
Discuss with your doctor whether a clinical trial is right for you. For a full list of clinical research studies currently open at Massey, search our database of clinical trials.
At VCU Massey Cancer Center, we believe that treating the whole person, not just the disease, is the best way to care for patients and family members coping with cancer. We take a holistic approach to address not just your medical and physical needs, but also your psychological, emotional and social needs. We offer comprehensive cancer support services to care for you throughout your cancer journey that range from helping minimize symptoms and side effects to helping evaluate and cope with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. These services include:
• Integrative health resources, including acupressure, art therapy, music therapy, pet therapy and tobacco cessation counseling. Complementary therapies are not substitutes for medical care but are used together with medical treatments to help patients alleviate stress and anxiety, reduce pain, manage symptoms and promote a feeling of well-being.
• Financial assistance for qualifying patients in need
• Genetic counseling by board-certified genetic counselors in Richmond’s only Familial Cancer Clinic
• Legal assistance for qualifying patients in need
• Lodging for qualifying patients in need
• Patient education, including libraries and health programming geared to cancer patients and their caregivers
• Pharmacy services, including in-hospital oncology pharmacies
• Psychological counseling
• Rehabilitation by one of the nation’s longest-running cancer rehabilitation programs with physical, occupational and speech therapy especially geared for cancer patients
• Spiritual counseling
• Social work for patients in need
• Transportation assistance for qualifying patients in need – ask your social worker for more information
• Wig salons that provide free hats, scarves and wigs as well as private head-wear consultation services