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Free Symposium to Help Brain-Tumor Patients, Caregivers

September 24, 2018

The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute will host the 12th annual Fred Cohen Symposium on Friday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Hartford Marriott Downtown at 200 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford.

The session, “Living with a Brain Tumor: Tools to Empower Patients & Caregivers,”  is free for patients and caregivers, backed by the support of the Cohen Family Foundation.

The keynote address, “Personalized Treatment of Primary Brain Tumors,” will be delivered by Dr. John de Groot, professor and chairman ad interim of the Department of Neuro-oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“As one of the largest and most comprehensive neuro-oncology programs in this area, educating and supporting patients and families are important parts of our mission,” says Dr. Andrew Salner, medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute and chair of the symposium.

Dr. De Groot’s presentation, he says, will touch upon the latest advances in the field, including the practice of tailoring therapy to each patient. This practice can be as general as deciding on a treatment regimen that factors in the patient’s health and age or as sophisticated as performing molecular analysis on tumors in search of mutations that can inform the type of drugs used.

Hartford HealthCare conducts molecular analysis on the majority of patients with primary brain tumors. The results determine treatment strategies. More detailed mutation analysis is often conducted with the panel made available through The Cancer Institute’s participation in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance to look for potentially promising drug options for the patient.

“Personalized therapy is a highly promising strategy of managing cancers in general and, at Hartford HealthCare, we are trying to stay at the forefront of that endeavor,” says Dr. Ahmad Daher, medical director of neuro-oncology with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group.

Dr. Daher adds that events such as the symposium provide vital support for brain cancer patients and caregivers because while brain tumors are not very common – only affecting 22 out of every 100,000 people in the United States – its management can be very challenging.

“These patients typically go through surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy, all of which result in cognitive if not functional and physical impairments,” he explains. “The goal is to continuously balance therapy, its aggressiveness and side effects in each patient’s unique case with overall quality of life.”

Caregivers must also address the patient’s constantly changing needs as they move through treatment.

“Because of the location of the disease and therapy, there can be emotional stress, mood issues and personality changes which can greatly impact the caregiver’s life, especially with therapy being largely centered on the patient,” Dr. Daher adds. “Efforts are continuously being made to address caregiver issues from basic safety needs at home to emotional support through events like the symposium and support groups.”

The Cohen Symposium, he says, is “hope-focused” as it also addresses the needs of patients and caregivers outside of a clinic setting. There are breakout sessions that separate the groups so each can speak candidly and without guilt about their needs and frustrations.

The Cohen Symposium is free but registration is required by calling Robin at 860.972.2380. Lunch will be provided.