Medical Minute: Brain Cancer

Each year, about 170,000 people will have a tumor in the brain that has spread from another part of the body, and about 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with a primary brain tumor. There is a treatment that could extend life expectancy.

Richard and June share more than lunch these days. They're also sharing one of life's toughest tests.

"After 51 years, it's just, I cannot imagine her not being there, so that's why this trial is so hard on her," says Richard

That trial is brain cancer. Richard was recently diagnosed with the most aggressive type there is.

"That was a real shock and took some getting used to it."

They sought help and found it in a man who's been called a hero of medicine, Dr. Keith Black.

"I've been trying to search for an effective treatment for brain tumors my entire medical career," Dr. Black says.

His latest research focuses on special immune cells called dendritic cells. They're used to stimulate powerful T-cells using tissue from the patient's own tumor.

"These T-cells will then divide into millions and millions of T-cells that will then invade back into the brain tumor to try to destroy it."

The vaccine is now delivered directly into the tumor to make it more effective. Richard was the first patient to receive it.

"He's really a patient where we would expect a tumor to behave very, very aggressively, and it looks to be stabilizing."

The vaccine is even more effective when used with chemotherapy. Early research suggests that combination boosts five-year survival from five to 40 percent. Richard doesn't know if he'll make it five years, but he's hopeful.

"I'd like to live a few more years, but being 73, I know it's inevitable. Who wants to live forever, anyway? But, I just don't want to go now."

For more information, contact:

Cedars-Sinai Physician Referral Line
(800) CEDARS-1

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