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Brain Cancer Health Center

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Sen. Ted Kennedy Leaves Hospital

Kennedy Goes Home to Await Further Test Results to Determine Brain Cancer Treatment


There are other treatments, including the development of vaccines, or what we call immunotherapy, that are being studied at some of the various centers in the country to try to help the immune system turn around and fight against the tumor cells.

Other treatments being studied -- which I do not believe Sen. Kennedy would be a candidate for -- [include] surgical implantation for delivery of chemotherapy ... into the area of the tumor. Typically, if the patient is not a candidate for surgery because of the [tumor's location in the brain], they probably would not be a candidate for some of these localized treatment options.

Many centers are also using different viruses to deliver different genetic treatments to the tumors.

That's gene therapy?

It's called gene therapy, correct. The treatment uses a virus, and the genetic material within the virus can be manipulated or changed to contain genetic material that might fight directly against the tumor cells. That's a very exciting area. There are some centers around the country that are looking into this type of treatment.

Are there risks if it's a virus? People may hear "virus" and think that sounds risky.

The virus is actually inactivated. Although there might be potential side effects from the overall treatment, the virus itself would not cause a viral infection.

Do you find that a lot of patients with malignant gliomas are looking to get into a clinical trial or looking to try something experimental?

Over the years, a limited number of patients with malignant gliomas have been entered into clinical protocols. Although our treatments have advanced, there certainly is a long way to finding the perfect treatment, and therefore, participation in clinical protocols is very important. With this type of serious tumor, patients are very much interested in participating or at least being aware of what is available around the country to consider participating in a clinical protocol.

How would a patient find out where those trials are being done?

Fortunately, with the help of the media and the help of the Internet and various cancer-related societies, this information is more readily available. There are lists through the National Institutes of Health [and] the American Cancer Society. Many of the specialized cancer support groups throughout the country have lists of centers performing or offering clinical trials. And on the web sites of many of the medical centers -- usually universities but not necessarily limited to universities -- the contact number to inquire about clinical trials and information about clinical trials is available.

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