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The Brain and Spine Tumor Clinic

Few diagnoses are more frightening than a brain tumor — news that often sends patients searching the Internet and traveling great distances to receive the most advanced care. Those patients can now find that care at Rush University Medical Center.

Already home to one of the busiest brain tumor programs in the Chicago area, Rush recently launched the new, multidisciplinary Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Brain and Spine Tumor Clinic to treat both noncancerous and cancerous tumors, including ones that have metastasized, or spread, from other parts of the body.

The clinic brings together neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and hematologist/oncologists, who collaborate to determine the best course of treatment for patients with these complex, challenging conditions. It also provides patients with advanced diagnostic procedures and the opportunity to participate in clinical trials of promising new therapies not available anywhere else in Chicago.

“We want to be the solution for patients with complex brain tumors,” says neurosurgeon Richard Byrne, MD.

Care Centered Around the Patient
The clinic’s physicians coordinate their schedules so patients can meet with all of them on the same day in their individual offices. Patients then need to make only one trip to Rush for their consultations, saving them both time and energy.

The physicians meet every Wednesday afternoon to review cases and discuss treatment plans. “We all have our own individual expertise, and this meeting is a way of airing everybody’s opinions and arriving at a consensus as to what the appropriate treatment should be,” says neuro-oncologist Robert Aiken, MD, director of the clinic. “The result is that patients get a much more thorough and balanced assessment of their situation and care that’s specifically tailored to their individual needs.”

Plan of Attack
As part of its effort to identify the best individualized treatment options, the clinic performs genetic testing of many tumor samples. Depending on the tumor, treatment plans may include surgery, chemotherapy, biologic therapy, or radiation therapy, alone or in combination.

Patients also have the option of participating in clinical trials of the latest therapies thanks to Rush’s participation in the North Central Cancer treatment group, a consortium for clinical trials led by the Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute. Rush is the only medical center in the Chicago area that is part of the consortium and able to make these trials available.

“There are new therapies that we hope will offer a better outcome than existing treatments and aren’t available except in a clinical trial,” Aiken says. “There also will be clinical trials that our team will develop and trials that will be available outside of the Mayo consortium.”

Hope for the Future
Although brain cancer currently is not considered curable, Byrne and Aiken hope that the combination of physician collaboration and leading-edge treatment options will enable physicians at the clinic to prolong the lives of patients for extended lengths of time.

“Many cancers are not curable, but we can treat them for a number of years,” Aiken says. “Our hope is we can do the same for brain tumors until we’re able to offer a cure.”

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • To learn more about the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Brain and Spine Tumor Clinic at Rush or to schedule an appointment, call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874)
  • Stay in touch with Rush with Rush Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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