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.