Columbia neurosurgeons have completed new studies about glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. In two separate research projects, the doctors investigated both the microscopic aspects of this aggressive disease and its “big picture”–patient outcomes after surgery.
In one study, the doctors analyzed certain molecules from very precise biopsies of glioblastomas. This analysis revealed valuable information about certain types of cells, called infiltrative cells. Glioblastoma surgery usually cannot remove all of the infiltrative cells, so some are often left behind. These cells will eventually infiltrate normal tissue, causing recurrent disease. Learning more about these cell types will help researchers find new therapies to target them.
In the second study, the doctors didn’t need microscopes to gather their information. Instead, they analyzed the overall health of a group of patients–in this case, elderly patients with primary or recurrent glioblastoma. The study included hundreds of patients who had glioblastoma surgery at the Brain Tumor Center between 2000 and 2012.
The doctors were especially interested in studying elderly patients because of an odd gap in the medical evidence for glioblastoma treatment. Although glioblastomas occur more frequently in elderly people than young people, the tumors are studied more frequently in younger patients. Elderly patients often have additional medical problems that exclude them from clinical trials. This means that treatment outcomes are studied less frequently in elderly people.
The Columbia doctors found that, for a certain subset of elderly patients, treatment with surgery was no more risky than it would be for younger patients.
The doctors presented the results of these two studies at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) annual meeting in Boston this fall. At CNS meetings, neurosurgeons gather from around the country and the world to teach and learn from one another. Bruce, McKhann, Sheth and Sisti were glad to be able to share the results of their research with their peers. Their findings will help neurosurgeons everywhere as they create treatment plans with their patients.
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