Brain Tumour Survivor

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 9:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:03 pm
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Location: Australia
Brain Surgeon by Keith Black MD with Arnold Mann

Keith Black is the chairman of the department of neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurological Institute at Cedars-Sinai medical center.

With the help of donations and the willingness to set things up the way that Keith Black envisaged, the Maxine Dunitz Neurological Institute was built. It is important to understand that a large part of the success behind story of this book was the ability to channel funds generated from surgery into research. This was a key element and Keith Black calls it bench (the lab) to bedside (the treatment area).

Now when you combine one of the worlds best neurosurgeons and a multi-disciplinary approach, with research and surgery both feeding off each other, you have a recipe for success. How successful? Hold on to your hats!

When Keith arrived at Cedars-Sinai in 1997 their 2 year survival rate for GBM's was 8%. Now it is 42%, that's not a misprint, here is the quote:

"Combining the dendritic cell vaccine with other therapies, we have managed to bring the two-year survival rate for glioblastoma patients from a mere 8 percent to 42 percent." (p112-113)

I was amazed to read this. The news gets even better. He has had discussions with the FDA regarding trialling a new brain cancer stem cell vaccine. Another fine example of bench to bedside.

Now this book is mainly about a surgery, his patients and himself. Keith constantly refers to his position as acting in his patients best interests. He gets excited when his patients are keen to be treated and beat the odds. His method involves the time honoured 'do no harm', his aim to get the tumour out without it 'waking'. This book follows his patients through the highs and the low, he is the first to admit that despite their relative success cancer is still winning the war too often.

So how do you select a good surgeon? Keith believes its hard to go past one who specialises in brain tumours. Most neurosurgeons operate most of the time on the spine, its simple math if you wish to make money. There are only a 'few' who do 250 or more BT surgeries a year in the US; which means even less in Australia I assume. Keith says that the minimum experience you should look for is someone doing 50 a year; an average of one a week.

There is some of Keith's personal story in the book but that is not the main focus. My only criticism, is that although it is not a textbook, this book should have an index.

Overall a great read and published this year the information is up to date. My rating would be 4/5. I believe it is this type of approach that will lead to the best advance in treating brain cancer and Keith Black deserves the accoloades for this, his skill and compassion. An excellent buy for BT survivors and their families.

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