In an ongoing effort to increase awareness about the benefits of early detection—and in some rare cases to actually make a diagnosis before symptoms appear—a campaign called The Road to Early Detection, operated by The Brain Tumor Foundation, is bringing brain tumor screening to the streets, literally.
The campaign first offered its free screenings in New York City in 2008, working out of a 70-foot van set up with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) equipment. Check out our post about their NYC program here. Since then, the mobile initiative has continued to expand, most recently to Philadelphia, where the van was parked in the City Center neighborhood for a week in October.
The Columbia Department of Radiology reviews the scans, and accompanying questionnaires submitted by applicants are analyzed by doctors at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Brain tumors are usually not diagnosed until symptoms become apparent; by that time, fewer treatment options may be available, and the success rate of treatment may be decreased. The Road to Early Detection campaign represents the hopes of The Brain Tumor Foundation, along with local sponsors in individual cities, to give that success rate a boost.
In a recent interview with Philadelphia’s CBS news affiliate about The Road to Early Detection campaign, Dr. Adam Sonabend, a member of Columbia Neurosurgery’s Brain Tumor Center and a specialist in the treatments of brain and skull base tumors, says, “There’s not much known about what happens to patients with brain tumors before they develop any symptoms.” With that in mind, the scans will be used to further research into how tumors and other brain diseases behave in their crucial early stages, which in turn “might lead to new treatments to allow people to alter the course of the disease,” according to Dr. Sonabend.
In addition, the resulting scans may lead to early detection, and possibly more successful treatment for those individual patients.
While MRIs may not be fully diagnostic, they can identify abnormalities that point to the need for follow-up treatment; any abnormal results are forwarded to each patient’s primary care physician.
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