Webchat: The Latest in Brain Tumor Research and Care

In honor of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, David Reardon, MD, and Patrick Wen, MD, of Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology, went live on Facebook to answer questions about brain cancer.

The doctors discussed advice for brain tumor patients, answered audience questions, and described the difference between the two major categories of brain cancers—primary cancer, developed in the brain, and brain metastases, which spreads from other cancers in the body.

Brain cancer has no clean margin, with cells pushing on and infiltrating normal tissues of the brain, said Wen, director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology. It is often not an easy fix to remove with just surgery, and radiation therapy can be harmful to patients’ cognitive functions.

But ongoing clinical trials at Dana-Farber are showing encouraging results for these hard-to-treat tumors, Wen said. “What’s really exciting now, in the past two to three years, is that a lot of the molecular drugs…and immunotherapies [used for cancer] elsewhere in the body are starting to be tested for brain metastases,” he added.

The two discussed precision medicines, immunotherapy, and oncolytic virotherapy – all novel treatments that are safer and have lower side effects than the current standard of care.

“It is going to take a lot more research to identify the optimal immunotherapy drugs and combinations of drugs,” explained Reardon, who serves as the Center’s clinical director. “But we are working hard at understanding that better to be able to exploit this promising new treatment approach for brain cancer patients.”

View a video of the May 23 webchat below.