Neurooncology is the study of brain and spinal cord neoplasms, many of which are very dangerous and life-threatening (astrocytoma, glioma, glioblastomamultiforme, ependymoma, pontineglioma, and brain stem tumors are among the many examples of these). Among the malignant brain cancers, gliomas of the brainstem and pons, glioblastomamultiforme, and high-grade (highly anaplastic) astrocytoma are among the worst. In these cases, untreated survival usually amounts to only a few months, and survival with current radiation and chemotherapy treatments may extend that time from around a year to a year and a half, possibly two or more, depending on the patients condition, immune function, treatments used, and the specific type of malignant brain neoplasm.
Surgery may in some cases be curative, but, as a general rule, malignant brain cancers tend to regenerate and emerge from remission easily, especially highly malignant cases. In such cases, the goal is to excise as much of the mass (tumor cells) and as much of the tumor margin as possible without endangering vital functions or other important cognitive abilities. Neuro-oncology is a subspecialty that involves the neurological, medical, surgical, and oncologic management of patients with primary or metastatic central and peripheral nervous system neoplasms and any other disorders or complications affecting the nervous system that result directly or indirectly from nervous system or systemic neoplasms or from related treatment.