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Brain Cancer: New Center Offers Patients Greater Hope Through Research

By Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger
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For adults diagnosed with a glioma, the most serious type of brain tumor, life expectancy has remained at nine to twelve months since the 1970s. Gliomas are a tumor that develops in the supportive tissue of the brain and make up 80 percent of all cancerous brain tumors. The most common is glioblastoma – the type of tumor that took the life of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy just 15 months after his diagnosis.

Brain cancer is not as common as other cancers, but still affects hundreds of thousands of people. Nearly 63,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year, and about one third of them will be cancerous. Nearly 13,000 patients will die this year alone. A new national research center, based in Phoenix, Ariz., hopes to change those numbers.

Barrow Neurological Institute, part of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, is already known worldwide for providing cutting-edge treatment for people with brain and spine diseases, disorders and injuries. Barrow performs about 6,000 neurosurgical procedures each year, including 1,200 brain surgeries.

Barrow officials say the center is in a unique position, given the number of brain tumor patients seen and broad range of cancer experts, to build a research center dedicated to making scientific discoveries in the lab that can be quickly applied to patient care. The Center will bring together basic and clinical brain tumor research, and will also conduct “awake” brain surgery, allowing for patient response to be evaluated during surgery.

The Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center will take advantage of Barrow’s expertise in imaging, surgery, research and stem-cell science to pursue breakthroughs in the field of neuro-oncology. The Center will be designed to stimulate scientific discovery and improve interdisciplinary collaboration by focusing on new avenues of creative clinical and research collaboration. The goal is to combine cutting-edge research AND treatment options so that both patients and physicians will benefit.

By serving as a national center for brain tumor clinical trials, a key outcome of the new center will be that Barrow will be able to increase participation in the national and international brain tumor community. Barrow will gain access to more clinical trials and also plans to introduce a rapid-sequence clinical trials program. For patients and their providers, Barrow representatives believe this will result in more therapeutic options and new hope for near-term innovations that will change the course of these deadly diseases.

According to information provided to The Arizona Republic newspaper, The Barrow center will hire scientists to develop five labs that focus on different areas of brain-tumor research. Two will study the role adult stem cells play in brain-tumor development, while a third lab will focus on developing ways to prod a person's immune system as a vaccine against brain tumors. Other labs will study epigenetics, an emerging field that studies how non-genetic factors can influence how genes change or adapt. The Barrow center's goal is to double the number of clinical trials available to patients within five years, continuing until every patient has the opportunity to participate in an investigational study.

The Barrow Neurological Foundation is seeking to raise $17 million to endow the Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center and support initial laboratory start up. Those who have pledged money to support the new center include rock singer Bret Michaels, who was treated at Barrow in April 2010 for a brain hemorrhage.

Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 612,000 persons living with a primary brain tumor in the U.S. with 124,000 of those tumors being malignant. An estimated 62,930 new primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010. Of these, 22,070 will be malignant.

Barrow Neurological Foundation: http://www.supportbarrow.org/

Barrow Neurological Institute: http://www.thebarrow.org/

Brain Tumors: National Cancer Institute:

Arizona Republic - Barrow Expanding Fight vs. Cancer:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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