Brain tumor care, treatment in spotlight

Patients, physicians, and those caring for loved ones with brain tumors will have an opportunity to attend two full days of programs hosted by health care professionals from the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The efforts, co-sponsored by the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, are offered through the recently enhanced brain tumor treatment program at the University, where approximately 500 brain tumor patients are treated each year.

A seminar Saturday, April 26, will focus on people caring for patients with brain tumors. One week later, on Friday, May 2, another full-day session is geared toward patients, their families, and physicians, covering the latest research and treatment approaches in brain and spinal tumors.

Saturday, April 26 - Family Caregiver Training Program
Participants in this full-day program will learn about and discuss the challenges that come with taking care of a person with a brain tumor. Topics will include coping with cognitive and personality changes, how to manage symptoms at home, legal issues, and palliative care, as well as a short overview about brain tumors. Social workers, physical therapists, nurses, lawyers and physicians will be presenting.

"This is an opportunity for caregivers to come together, to learn how others cope in similar circumstances, and to address some tough issues that can be difficult to face," said physician's assistant Jennifer Serventi, RPA-C, who helped organize the day's activities.

"A brain tumor presents special challenges for patient and family alike. Patients may suddenly be depressed or have an extreme personality change that seems confusing. They might lose the ability to understand words or simple language. They might have extreme weakness on just one side of the body. The person who has always been great with numbers might suddenly not be able to balance a checkbook."

The seminar is sponsored by the Medical Center and the National Brain Tumor Foundation, with funding from Rochester Neurosurgery Partners, the University's Department of Radiation Oncology, Schering Plough Corp., and Wegmans. The seminar will be held at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School. The seminar is free, but registration is required. Call (585) 276-3971 to register.

Friday, May 2 - Update on Treatment Strategies
Thirteen faculty including neurosurgeons, neurologists and adult and pediatric oncologists will participate in the "First Annual Update in Neuro-Oncology: A Multidisciplinary Approach." Covering a broad range of areas that touch on the many medical issues that brain tumor patients and their family members encounter, the program is jointly sponsored by the Brain and Spinal Tumor Program at the Medical Center and the Wilmot Cancer Center. Chemotherapy, imaging techniques, managing seizures, rehabilitation therapies, and more than a dozen other topics will be covered in two simultaneous sessions, one for consumers and one for health care providers. In addition, Mark R. Gilbert, M.D., professor of Neuro-Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will speak about novel therapies for brain tumors.

Kevin Walter, M.D., associate professor of Neurological Surgery and director of the Brain and Spinal Tumor Program at the Medical Center, helped organize the seminar to provide a comprehensive update on current treatment strategies for patients suffering from brain and spinal tumors.

"Patients with brain or spinal tumors face a myriad of health challenges that often require the input of several specialists to determine the best treatment approach," Walter said. "By opening these sessions to consumers as well as physicians, we hope to provide a broader understanding of the most recent advances in treatments, and what that means for doctors, patients and their families."

The seminar, to be held at Casa Large Vineyards, is $20 and includes lunch and a wine tasting event at 3 p.m. For more information, call (585)275-4392

Expanded brain tumor treatment options
The seminars are part of the University's burgeoning options for patients with brain tumors. Over the past year, the Medical Center has recruited five faculty and staff members who specialize in brain tumor treatment and research. Joohee Sul, M.D., and Nimish Mohile, M.D., who both completed fellowships in neuro-oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, joined the Department of Neurology, along with Serventi, who previously worked with brain tumor patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Department of Neurosurgery recruited a husband and wife surgeon-researcher team from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Walter, and his wife, Eleanor Carson-Walter, Ph.D., co-direct the new Brain and Spinal Tumor Program, which helps to coordinate the work of physicians and researchers throughout the Medical Center.

Currently, the Wilmot Cancer Center and the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgical Surgery are sponsoring four studies in patients who have brain tumors, with plans to begin several more studies later this year.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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