Ruth Ross assumed the stress of her husband’s cancer was to blame for her uncharacteristic double-booking of dinner plans and inability to balance her checkbook. However, as her forgetfulness increased, Ruth’s husband, Chris, encouraged her to see a doctor. On the same day the couple learned of Chris’s remission, the doctors at the Swedish Medical Center discovered a massive tumor on the left side of Ruth’s brain.
Ruth joins Andrew and Dr. Greg Foltz, director for the Pacific Northwest Brain Tumor Alliance, for a discussion about the current state of brain tumor diagnoses and different treatment options. Dr. Foltz explains how cancer today is really an individual disease and patients should be treated with individualized therapies. Glioblastoma, also known as brain cancer, has multiple subtypes. A single patient may even have one tumor with different areas within it.
Learn about the standard treatment, which combines radiation therapy and a concurrent pill-form chemotherapy. Dr. Foltz explains how the Swedish Medical Center, where he works, goes a step further in treatment and biopsies the tumor in order to look across the genome and see what genes are expresses or not. This may help inform a doctor about how the patient will respond to certain therapies. Also, hear about two new forms of stereotactic radiosurgery, CyberKnife and Gamma Knife, that allow for extremely targeted radiation treatments.
Dr. Foltz discusses his 4 P’s of medicine approach: Personalized medicine, allows you to predict, allows you to prevent, but most importantly allows you to participate in the process. Although a diagnosis of brain cancer may be very daunting because there is currently no cure, the key is to find a treatment plan that buys a patient more time. With over 40 compounds, including Avastin, currently being studied in brain cancer, the future looks promising.
Greg Foltz, M.D.
Neurosurgeon, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Swedish Medical CenterDr. Foltz is a Neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, where he also helps to research topics including genomics and neuro-oncology. He received his medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine and completed residency training at the University of Washington. Additionally, Dr. Foltz founded the nonprofit educational organization Neurosurgery International, which serves young neurosurgeons from developing countries. more >
PatientRuth Ross, 46 of Seattle, is an insurance company representative who was diagnosed with brain cancer in early 2007. This followed her husband, Chris, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and gained back cognitive and speech functions she had lost. The treatments put her cancer into remission. Ruth and Chris have two teenage daughters. more >