DOOR OPENS FOR AGGRESIVE BRAIN CANCER
and Andrea Dumont - We feel blessed to have had
over twelve extra months so far, and that something
wonderful has come out of this tragedy.
Dumont awoke in a hospital one day in November 2005, a friend
offered to tell her boss not to expect her at work that week.
Oh, Ill be fine by Thursday, Andrea assured
her. The friend responded, You dont know why youre
here, do you? Andrea did not remember blacking out in
her garage in Ashland, Massachusetts, after driving her young
son Dylan to school, or the ambulance transferring her to
Massachusetts General Hospital for emergency brain surgery.
With life-long migraines, she had attributed her increasingly
severe pain and nausea to them. At 45, she had never worried
about brain cancer, yet now she learned she had undergone
surgery for glioblastoma (also known as glioblastoma multiforme),
an aggressive brain cancer with few treatment options. I
had never heard of glioblastoma, recalls Andrea. Then
surgery, Andreas neuro-oncologist at the Massachusetts
General Hospital Cancer Center, Fred Hochberg, MD, prescribed
radiation and chemotherapy. But one of the hallmarks of glioblastoma
is that, after a short retreat, it always recurs. Andreas
tumor returned and grew rapidly, leading her to decide to
enter a clinical trial of a new medication, AZD2171 (cediranib),
led by oncologist Tracy Batchelor, MD, MPH, executive director
of the Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology
at the Cancer Center. A year after starting treatment, Andreas
tumor had shrunk significantly.
success arises from its ability to impact both the tumor and
its side effects. Glioblastomas arise within brain cells and
then create their own blood supply, explains Batchelor. The
blood vessels grow abnormally, but they supply the extra nourishment
the tumor needs to grow. Also, all tumors cause swelling.
In the brain, the skull encases the swelling and leaves no
room to spare, causing as many symptoms as the tumor itself.
and tumor exert pressure, compress brain tissue, and disrupt
connections among brain regions. Symptoms vary, depending
on the affected region of the brain. If the tumor lodges in
a center for speech, movement, memory or respiration, symptoms
can be devastating. The only treatment for swelling is steroids,
which has a list of negative side effects that Batchelor says
extends from ceiling to floor.
the Specialized Care of Individuals with Brain
Brain Tumor Center
Yawkey Building 9th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts, 02114
& Families with questions about referrals, consultations
or appointments may contact:
questions may contact:
Tracy Batchelor, M.D.
MGH Brain Tumor Center