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Multidisciplinary Brain Tumor Care at UW Health

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Medical Directions

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UW Carbone Cancer Center

On New Year's Eve day of 2005, Chris Wood had what he thought was a heart attack while at work.

 

"Objects appeared to bend and move in odd ways, and my left side felt disconnected from the rest of my body," says Chris Wood, Madison resident.

 

Over the next two and a half years, these symptoms came and went, until Mr. Wood's new primary care physician, Peter Newcomer, MD, requested an MRI. The MRI would show a very large enhancing mass in the right parietal lobe of his brain suspicious for Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

 

GBM, also called Astrocytoma Grade 4, is the most common and aggressive primary brain tumor, and patients with this disease benefit from complex management through a multidisciplinary group of UW faculty physicians, nurses and social workers.

 

The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center's (UWCCC) multidisciplinary brain tumor team offers this expertise. With state-of-the-art care in the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors, our team cares for more than 800 new patients annually with a variety of brain tumors, including GBM.

 

Each patient is evaluated by the multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neuroradiologists and neuropathologists. An individualized treatment plan for each patient is collaboratively developed and discussed at regular Brain Tumor Boards.

 

Expert nursing and social service associates are integral members of our team who focus on each patient and family members throughout inpatient and outpatient care. They are dedicated to improving patient and caregiver quality of life through treatment, follow-up and also coordinate patient support group meetings and caregiver workshops.

 

The multidisciplinary brain tumor care team offers many featured treatments and advanced procedures. Some of these include: awake craniotomy for maximal microsurgical tumor resection near eloquent brain regions, complex skull base surgery, minimally invasive stereotactic or endoscopic tumor biopsy/resection, helical tomotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and technology for advanced anatomical and functional brain imaging.

 

In June 2007, John S. Kuo, MD, PhD, Director of the UW Health Multidisciplinary Brain Tumor Program, performed a stealth-guided craniotomy to remove Mr. Wood's 7.5 x 4.9 x 4.4-centimeter tumor in an operation that lasted over eight hours without complications.

 

"Chris and his family have great optimism and verve, and are terrific partners in the fight against GBM. Our whole team is dedicated to providing people like Chris and his family the best possible care," says Dr. Kuo.

 

After Mr. Wood's GBM diagnosis was confirmed, he received radiation therapy and chemotherapy with internationally recognized leaders in brain tumor research - Dr. Minesh Mehta of Radiation Oncology and Dr. H. Ian Robins of Neuro-oncology. During close follow up with our team, Mr. Wood's early cancer recurrence was detected in November 2008, and he is undergoing additional treatments that are holding the disease in check, and also preserve his excellent quality-of-life.

 

An important feature offered at UWCCC is the broad array of National Cancer Institute and industry-funded clinical trials of new therapies which provide innovative options for patients at any stage of their disease. UW Health physicians and researchers are involved in cutting edge basic and clinical brain cancer research with the goal of developing new, more effective therapies for treating brain metastases, glioblastoma and other brain tumors.

 

The NIH funds UW research to develop sophisticated functional imaging for improved diagnosis and to test innovative ways to predict therapeutic response. Our team members lead national and international clinical trials of brain tumor therapies through the National Cancer Institute-funded Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), the American Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC) and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG).

 

A total of 75 brain tumor patients participated in clinical trials in 2007, with 389 UWCCC patients participating in brain tumor clinical trials from 2002-2007. Given the rare incidence of brain tumors, UWCCC is one of the largest centers for experimental brain tumor therapy in the nation. We are pleased to offer assistance to referring physicians in managing all stages of a brain tumor patient's disease, and limited consultation via medical record review is available upon request for patients who live far from Madison.