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Neurosurgical Oncology

Neurosurgical Oncology: Brain & Spine Tumors

What is Neurosurgical Oncology?

Neurosurgical Oncology, also known as Surgical Neuro-Oncology, is the surgical management of tumors involving the brain and spine. The more common term for this field is “brain tumor surgery,” though it does include surgery for tumors involving the spine. This latter area is also referred to as Spinal Oncology.

Most brain tumors require a neurosurgeon who is fellowship-trained and board-certified. These features are important because as you would expect, brain tumors are rare and can be complex. Not all neurosurgeons have a specialty focus on brain tumors.

At Westchester Medical Center, we have a dedicated neurosurgical oncologist, Simon Hanft, MD, FAANS, who performs among the most brain tumor operations in the Tri-State Area. In addition to Dr. Hanft, we have a dedicated group of physicians who manage other aspects of brain tumor care.  

Although the surgery is extremely important and is the first step for patients with a brain tumor diagnosis, the next steps in your care are equally essential. These include radiation, which is managed by our radiation oncology group; chemotherapy and clinical trials, which are coordinated by our neuro-oncology team; social work; rehabilitation; and close, long-term followup.

Westchester Medical Center offers an integrated approach to the treatment of patients with brain tumors. Patients can receive all the necessary care under one roof. These physicians communicate about each patient so the plan is focused, clear, and patient-specific. You need individualized care for your diagnosis, and the team at Westchester Medical Center can provide this level of dedication. It is our goal to make sure that patients with brain tumors and their family members are completely integrated into the care plan and decision-making process. Our personalized approach is an antidote to the assembly-line medicine that can frustrate brain tumor patients at other institutions.

Precise, Cutting-Edge Care, Close to Home

WMC has demonstrated a major commitment to the treatment of patients with brain tumors. These include the latest machine for providing targeted radiation, the Truebeam. This machine uses a highly accurate, frame-less approach to treating brain tumors that otherwise would require a traditional brain surgery with opening of the skull. Also known as radiosurgery, or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), the Truebeam is utilized by both the radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon to target and treat brain tumors through a bloodless, incision-less approach that is much easier on patients.

Inside the operating room, WMC is the only hospital in the county featuring an exoscope, a new tool that allows for extraordinarily high-definition visualization of brain tumors. WMC is also the first hospital in Westchester to use Gleolan, a fluorescent agent that selectively illuminates brain tumor cells allowing for more complete tumor removal. This is especially useful in glioblastoma surgery, where this particularly aggressive tumor can be difficult to remove entirely due to its similarity to the surrounding brain. (Learn more.) WMC is also equipped to perform awake craniotomies, an essential but oftentimes intimidating approach for patients who would understandably prefer to be asleep for their operation. But in select cases, particularly for tumors involving the language areas of the brain, our team can perform the surgery with the patient awake for only the most important moments so as to ensure maximal safe tumor removal. Our radiology department has the capability of performing functional MRI (fMRI) which is a refined, new method of evaluating the patient’s brain tumor and its relationship to nearby motor and language structures. This can often be a very helpful piece of information in planning brain tumor surgery.

Minimally Invasive Brain Tumor Surgery

The main goal in brain tumor surgery is an ongoing effort to maximize tumor removal while minimizing pain and neurologic deficits. Minimally invasive brain tumor surgery helps to reduce the amount of postoperative pain and allows patients to heal rapidly and return to their normal lives. Learn more below about a few of the minimally invasive technologies available at WMC.

Laser Ablation

Laser ablation, also known as LITT (laser interstitial thermal therapy), is a novel, minimally invasive way to treat deep-seated brain tumors. WMC is one of the only health centers in the entire state to offer this technology. This procedure involves an extremely small incision through the scalp and skull with delivery of a 2 mm laser probe into the target tissue. This tumor tissue is then heated and killed in a precise, controlled fashion. Laser therapy can be an excellent option for patients seeking care for their brain tumor.


WMC also offers advanced technology for treating pituitary tumors, which can nearly always be approached through the nose using an endoscope, which is a long, thin, high-definition camera. In conjunction with our ENT colleagues, the endoscope has greatly improved our ability to remove these tumors without having to resort to more traditional skull openings. We also offer inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) for patients that have suspected Cushing’s Disease.

Tubular Retractor System

Another minimally invasive tool for brain tumor removal is the tubular retractor system. By utilizing these small tubes that are inserted through brain tissue to access deep-seated tumors, patients can have their brain tumors removed through smaller incisions and smaller bone openings. At WMC, we utilize the Vycor system for these deep challenging tumors.

Conditions We Treat

We have significant experience treating the following types of brain tumors:


  • Glioblastoma (GBM)
  • Low grade glioma (astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma)
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary region tumors (adenomas, acromegaly, Cushing’s Disease, craniopharyngiomas)
  • Acoustic neuroma (also known as vestibular schwannoma)
  • Tumors of the spinal canal (schwannoma, meningioma, ependymoma)

Contact Us

Appointments and Information

Westchester Medical Center Brain and Spine Institute
19 Bradhurst Avenue, Suite 2900 S
Hawthorne, NY 10532

Phone: 914.493.2363
Fax: 914.493.2505

Download Campus Map

Our Providers

Our comprehensive care team is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date evaluation, personalized multidisciplinary treatments and continuity of care for patients with brain and spine tumors. To best serve your needs, our specialists meet patients in a multidisciplinary clinic that allows the opportunity to collaboratively develop individualized treatment and care plans.

Hanft, Simon
Section Chief, Neurosurgical Oncology, Westchester Medical Center
Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery, New York Medical College

Muh, Carrie R.
Muh, Carrie R.
Division Chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Surgical Director of Pediatric Epilepsy Program, Surgical Director of Pediatric Neuro-vascular Program, Surgical Co-Director of Craniofacial Program
Neurological Surgery
Pediatric Neurosurgery
Fanucchi, Michael
Fanucchi, Michael

Associate Director of Clinical Affairs, Cancer Institute
Gandhi, Chirag
Gandhi, Chirag
Director, Neurovascular Surgery, Westchester Medical Center, and Professor and Vice-Chairman of Neurosurgery, New York Medical College
Neurological Surgery
Moorthy, Chitti
Moorthy, Chitti
Chairman and Professor of Clinical Radiation Medicine,Department of Radiation Medicine
Radiation Oncology
Pellegrino, Christine M.
Medical Oncology
Pisapia, Jared M.
Pisapia, Jared M.
Attending Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Surgical Director of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program, Surgical Director of Peripheral Nerve Surgery Program, Surgical Co-Director of Craniofacial Program
Neurological Surgery
Pediatric Neurosurgery
Saleh, Nagwa
Radiation Oncology