Symposium Will Cover Newest Findings About Brain Tumors

Apr. 27, 2010
Patients and Physicians Have Opportunity to Learn about Research/Treatment

Patients, physicians, and those caring for loved ones with brain tumors will observe Brain Tumor Awareness Week the first week of May with three educational and celebratory events sponsored by the University of Rochester Medical Center and James P. Wilmot Cancer Center

On Friday, May 7, a day-long seminar presented by medical professionals will focus on the latest research and treatment approaches for brain and spinal tumors. On Saturday, May 8, an all-day conference will offer a wide range of information for individuals who are caring for patients with brain tumors.

As the largest brain and spinal tumor program in the region, with approximately 500 patients treated each year, the Medical Center and Wilmot Cancer Center first organized these events for Brain Tumor Awareness three years ago. The only such observance in the Western New York region, last year patients from as far away at New York City and Ohio traveled to Rochester to attend.

These activities will offer doctors, patients and family members a broader understanding of the recent advances in treatment and research for brain cancers as well as provide insight into how to handle the many qualities of life, emotional and physical challenges that people face.

Thursday, May 6 – Community Sharing Hope Picnic

Activities begin with Community Sharing Hope Picnic at Kings Bend Park in Pittsford. Brain tumor survivors and their families, friends and medical staff will celebrate Brain Tumor Awareness Week with this event, which runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Many in attendance at the annual picnic are members of the Adult Brain Tumor Network, at Strong Memorial Hospital and the Wilmot Cancer Center, which provides support for people with brain tumors and their families. The Medical Center’s Neurosurgery, Pediatric Oncology and Radiation Oncology departments are sponsoring the event. For more information, call (585) 275-4631 or (585) 273-49670.

Friday, May 8 – Update on Treatment Strategies

A team of neurosurgeons, neurologists and adult and pediatric oncologists will offer an Update in Neuro-Oncology. The team will discuss new advances in the multidisciplinary treatment of primary brain tumors and brain metastases and also the most current information about medical and neurological complications observed in people with brain tumors and other cancers. 

Two guest lecturers will offer insight into advances in research and treatment for this often deadly disease. Jaishri Blakely, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology, Oncology, and Neurosurgery and director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Comprehensive Neurofibromatosis Center will focus on new developments in brain tumor care and scientist Hai Yan, M.D., Ph.D., of the Molecular Oncogenomics Laboratory at Duke University, will share recent genomics research and how the findings can improve cancer care.

Updates about adult and pediatric brain tumor research and clinical trials will be the focus of the patient-oriented break-out sessions along with a session about living with a brain tumor.

The agenda for the healthcare attendees covers several areas. They include: improving patient monitoring and communications; advances in stereotactic radiosurgery; new findings from clinical trials; advances in pediatric brain tumors; sleep disorders and fatigue in cancer patients; stem cells and brain tumor therapy; and predicting recurrence.

Kevin Walter, M.D., associate professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology and director of the Program for Brain and Spinal Tumors at the Medical Center, said the conference was established because “more than 2,000 research articles are published in the field of neuro-oncology each year and the information found in these studies often results in profound changes in the management of patients suffering from malignant brain tumors.

“Our goal is to assist clinicians in keeping up-to-date on the latest treatments,” he said. “The program is also open to patients and their families to help them to develop broader understanding about the most recent advances in treatments and what that means for them.”

The seminar, to be held at the Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua, is presented by Rochester Neurosurgery Partners in conjunction with the Medical Center departments of Neurology, Pathology, Pediatrics, and Radiation Oncology. Registration is $20 and includes lunch. Call (585) 275-4392 to register.

Saturday, May 8 – Family Caregiver Training Program

This program is designed to offer education and support to people who face the challenges of caring for with a family member or friend with a brain tumor. Topics include a look at changes in diagnoses and treatments; managing symptoms at home; palliative care; and strategies for coping with the physical, mental and emotional challenges of being a care giver. A financial advisor will offer tips for managing financial issues. 

Social workers, nurses and clinicians will lead additional discussions on relationship changes, fear of tumor recurrence, and providing care for a love one while raising a family.

“This is an opportunity for caregivers to come together, to learn how others cope in similar circumstances, and to address some tough issues that can be difficult to face,” said physician assistant Jennifer Serventi, RPA-C, an organizer. “A diagnosis of a brain tumor presents special challenges for patients and family alike. People may suddenly be depressed or have an extreme personality change that seems confusing. They might lose the ability to understand words or simple language. They might have extreme weakness on just one side of the body. The person who has always been great with numbers might suddenly not be able to balance a checkbook.” The workshop, which is free, will take place at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School beginning at 8:30 a.m. Advance registration is required by contacting Serventi at (585) 276-3971 or e-mail her at

The Medical Center and the National Brain Tumor Society are sponsoring this event, with funding from Departments of Radiation Oncology, Neurology, and Neurosurgery; as well as Wegmans Food Markets and Bruegger’s Bagels.