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New Protocol Targets Aggressive Brain Cancer

r than 12 months. It’s significant progress for a disease that usually kills in less than a year. The other 10 patients, including Wollschlager, are still less than a year out from their diagnosis.

“Novel imaging is a very important new tool for the treatment of high grade gliomas. It will allow us to better define the target and to define aggressive areas of the tumor where higher radiation doses can be safely delivered, in combination with effective chemotherapies. Imaging will also allow us to assess response to treatment so that we can adjust therapies early,” says Christina Tsien, M.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School and lead investigator for this protocol.

Traditional imaging techniques require a patient complete seven weeks of treatment, followed by an MRI scan six weeks after completing therapy to determine if the tumor shrank. If the cancer did not respond to the treatment, a new approach may be tried. With newer imaging techniques, doctors can determine as early as one week after treatment begins whether it is effective.

Patients in the study receive six weeks of radiation therapy, five times per week. At the same time, they receive a daily oral chemotherapy. “We get a certain effect with radiation and we get a certain effect with chemo. But by putting them together, we get a much larger effect,” Tsien says.

For Wollschlager, his treatment stretched from April to May 2006. Not quite a year later, he’s back to work as a manufacturing manager and he’s training to run the Marine Corps. Marathon in October.

“You hear the old adage ‘Live every day like it’s your last.’ Now after this traumatic event in my life has happened, it has changed the way I think in that respect. I live life even more fully than I used to. I look for everything. Me and the wife share more moments together now than we used to,” Wollschlager says.

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