What you need to know

It is recommended that you:

  • See a specialist who is a member of a multidisciplinary team. You can ask your GP to refer you.
  • All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

What is central nervous system or neurological cancer?

Central nervous system or neurological cancer can occur in any part of the brain or spinal cord. Central nervous system cancer starts when cells in the brain or spinal cord become abnormal. These cells divide and grow to form a cancer. There are different types of central nervous system cancers. These include astrocytoma, glioblastoma, spinal cord and brain stem tumours.

Graphic of a human body highlighting the brain

Who do I see for diagnosis and treatment of my central nervous system cancer?

If your GP suspects you have central nervous system cancer, they will refer you to a specialist.

The specialist should:

  • Have experience in treating neurological cancer
  • Be an active member of a multidisciplinary team.

All the specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

Why are multidisciplinary teams important?

A multidisciplinary team is a team of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Team members meet regularly to discuss their patients. They plan treatment for new cancer patients and review treatment for existing patients.

Multidisciplinary teams are important. Team members work together to decide the best treatments for patients.

You can ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who is part of a multidisciplinary team. Talk to your GP about this.

All specialists on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.

What tests do I need?

You may have some of the tests listed below to diagnose a central nervous system cancer. The most common tests are:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging - CT scan, PET scan and/or MRI scan
  • Biopsy

What treatment will I have?

Treatments for a central nervous system cancer may include one or all types of these cancer treatments:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiotherapy

Where will I have treatment?

If treatment for central nervous system cancer is specialised and complex, you may need to travel to have a part of your treatment. Your Local Health District will have an arrangement in place for this.

You may be able to have parts of your treatment closer to home. Please discuss this with your treating specialist.

Travel assistance for rural patients

If you live in a rural area and need help to travel for your treatment visit NSW Government IPTAAS for more information.

How common is neurological cancer in NSW?

Neurological cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 555
    People in NSW in 2012
  • 544
    People in NSW in 2011
  • 544
    People in NSW in 2010

Data source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2012 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry)

Cancer information and support

Speak to a specialist health professional about anything to do with cancer.

Phone 13 11 20.

Cancer Council NSW
Questions for your specialist

Find out some key questions to ask your specialist at your first appointment.

Questions you can ask
Booklet about brain cancer

Understanding Brain Tumours is a booklet for people with brain or spinal cord tumours, and their families and friends.

Cancer Council NSW