Brain and Nervous System


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The Cancer Network of West Michigan puts advanced care within reach, even for complex brain and nervous system tumors. We are among the few programs in the region with a doctor specializing in these conditions — a neuro-oncologist. You also benefit from the expertise of cancer specialists from Trinity Health and University of Michigan Health-West.

What are Brain and Nervous System Tumors?

Brain and nervous system tumors are abnormal growths that may or may not be cancerous. Tumors in these areas can become large enough to press on sensitive tissue and affect basic nervous system functioning. This is why it’s essential to seek care from a team of specialists, such as the experts at the Cancer Network.

Brain and nervous system tumors we treat include:

  • Acoustic neuroma, noncancerous tumors that develop in the nerves that support balance and hearing
  • Glioblastoma, fast-growing cancer that can quickly invade nearby brain tissue
  • Glioma, tumors in glial cells, which cause dysfunction in the brain and spine
  • Meningioma, a common tumor that starts in the brain and spinal cord’s protective covering
  • Metastatic brain tumors, cancerous growths that start in a different area of the body and spread to the brain
  • Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes nervous system tumors
  • Spinal cord tumors, abnormal growths, which may or may not be cancerous, and can develop anywhere along the spinal cord 
  • Pituitary tumors, abnormal growths of the pituitary gland that may or may not be cancerous

Brain and Nervous System Tumor Services at the Cancer Network

You receive leading therapies from organizations that have been serving our community for decades. Mercy Health and University of Michigan Health-West have been trusted names in local cancer services since the 1980s. Working alongside University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center, one of the nation’s top programs, we deliver the region’s highest level of cancer care. Read more about us.

A cancer doctor who completed additional advanced training through a fellowship in neuro-oncology leads your care. The neuro-oncologist works alongside neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists to tailor therapies to your needs. Our experience from regularly treating brain tumors helps you receive precise therapies.
Tumor Boards
Mercy Health, University of Michigan Health-West and Michigan Medicine communicate regularly in meetings called tumor boards. Cancer specialists from each organization work together to carefully plan treatments. This approach means you benefit from the recommendations of multiple experts.
You may be eligible for innovative therapies only available through clinical trials. The Cancer Network is home to respected research programs, sometimes offering trials that are only available in select programs nationwide. Explore cancer clinical trials.
Nurse navigators arrange appointments and other services that keep treatments moving forward. They are by your side through every step of your care. You also have access to specialists between appointments by phone or our secure patient portal.
Brain and Nervous System
Tumor Symptoms

The symptoms you experience depend on the type and location of the tumor. Common symptoms include:

  • Balance issues
  • Behavior changes, such as being quick to anger
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in an arm or leg
  • Seizures
  • Loss of vision
Diagnosing Brain and Nervous
System Tumors

You receive the assessments you need in locations close to home. We conduct a thorough evaluation that may include:

  • Neurologic exam: We assess certain aspects of brain functioning, including balance, coordination and ability to complete simple commands.
  • Imaging tests: An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the brain or spinal cord. This test can pinpoint the location of a tumor.
  • Biopsy: We take a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope. This test can determine whether cells are cancerous.
Brain and Nervous System
tumor treatment

Surgery is a common treatment for brain and nervous system tumors. Cancer Network specialists hold themselves to the highest standards, so you can count on us for safe, effective care. Many of our locations maintain American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation. This recognition is only awarded to programs that consistently achieve excellent results.


Brain and nervous system tumor treatments may include:

  • Surgery: We use leading techniques to remove tumors with less disruption to healthy tissue. Neurosurgeons use real-time imaging to locate the tumor and remove as much of it as possible.
  • Chemotherapy and other tumor-directed therapies: These treatments include anticancer drugs and other substances that slow abnormal cell growth. We deliver therapies in comfortable infusion suites where specially trained nurses carefully monitor treatments.
  • Radiation oncology: This option uses radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells. You have access to advanced technologies that deliver focused treatments including the only CyberKnife Radiosurgery System in West Michigan. We meticulously plan your treatment so you get the most out of each session.
Testing & Counseling
You may benefit from these services if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers, testing can help you learn more about your risk. Genetic counselors explain how testing works and what preventive health recommendations might be made based on the results.
Social workers make living with cancer a little less stressful on you and your loved ones. They are familiar with the challenges that a cancer diagnosis can bring. You can count on them for useful tips and referrals to local support services.
Cancer treatments often come with unexpected costs. Financial counselors help ease this burden. We review your insurance coverage and identify options that may offer additional benefits. Counselors also help you apply for financial assistance programs if you qualify.
Brain and Nervous System
The best and brightest focused on your care.
Lindsay Robell
Radiation Oncology
Derek Bergsma
Expert care not far from home:

Cancer Network services are available at several locations across West Michigan. Each facility represents the full strength, compassion and expertise we have to offer. Our integrated approach makes it easier to receive care where you’re most comfortable — near home and loved ones. 

Trinity Health Lacks Cancer Center
250 Cherry Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Trinity Health Johnson Family Cancer Center
1440 Sherman Blvd
Muskegon, MI 49444
University of Michigan Health-West Cancer Center
5950 Metro Way
Wyoming, MI 49519

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Ready to Talk to an expert?
The Cancer Network of West Michigan can provide a fast-tracked evaluation of your diagnosis, helping you make the best decision for your care.