Quigley Visits Brain Tumor Institute at Lurie Cancer Center

Highlights Resolution to Recognize May as National Brain Tumor Awareness Month

May 20, 2016

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, met with leaders of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University’s Brain Tumor Institute (NBTI) to discuss current research and exploration into the cause, effects and potential treatments for brain tumors. Rep. Quigley also discussed his House Resolution to designate May 2016 as National Brain Tumor Awareness Month.

"Nearly 78,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with a brain tumor this year, and sadly, over 16,000 people will lose their battle. But it is inspiring to see the hard work and determination by those at Northwestern's Brain Tumor Institute to change the daunting statistics," said Rep. Quigley. "The neurological research taking place at NBTI is vital to helping us move closer to eliminating this tragic disease, and I'm thankful to the doctors and patients for offering insight into the progress being made today."

"The world-class scientific and clinical expertise within our Brain Tumor Institute enables us to develop and deliver the most effective clinical trials and treatments available," said Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center. "Thank you to Representative Quigley for increasing awareness and support for vital brain tumor research. We're committed to improving the outcomes and quality of life of our patients."

Rep. Quigley's visit began with a discussion on the daunting obstacles to the development of new treatments for brain tumors and the development of strategies for screening or early detection of brain tumors with NBTI leadership, including Dr. Leonidas Platanias, Director, Lurie Cancer Center; Dr. Jeffrey Raizer, Co-Director, NBTI; and Dr. Matt Lesniak, Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern Medicine. The discussion was followed by a tour of a research laboratory in Tarry Building.

Following his laboratory tour, Rep. Quigley visited the Clinical Cancer Center with Dr. Priya Kumthekar, Neurologist and Assistant Professor at NBTI, where he met with Lurie Cancer Center patient, P.J. Lukac, who was a second-year medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine when he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer called glioblastoma, a brain cancer that is notoriously difficult to treat. Dr. Lukac was treated at NBTI and is now living cancer-free following surgery, one month of radiation and a two-year course of chemotherapy. In January 2010, he returned to medical school and is currently working as a hospitalist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

The treatment and removal of brain tumors present significant challenges because of the brain's uniquely complex and fragile nature, due in part to there being more than 120 different types of tumors. While brain tumor research is supported by a number of private nonprofit research foundations and by institutes at the National Institutes of Health, there still remain daunting obstacles to the development of new treatments. Moreover, there are currently no strategies for screening or early detection of brain tumors.

Despite the number of new people diagnosed with a brain tumor every year, and their devastating prognosis, there have only been four FDA-approved drugs and one device to treat brain tumors in the past 30 years. On top of that, the four approved drugs have provided only incremental improvements to patient survival, and mortality rates remain little changed over the past 30 years. There is clearly a need for greater public awareness of brain tumors, including the difficulties associated with research on these tumors and the opportunities for advances in brain tumor research and treatment.

This month, Rep. Quigley introduced his bipartisan resolution, H.Res. 679, to recognize May 2016 as “National Brain Tumor Awareness Month.” May is the month when brain tumor advocates unite in awareness, outreach, and advocacy activities nationwide. Rep. Quigley’s resolution was endorsed by American Brain Coalition; American Brain Tumor Association; American Cancer Society; C-Change; National Brain Tumor Society; and Society for Neuro-Oncology. To view the video of Rep. Quigley speaking on the House floor about his resolution, please click here.

Dr. Lukac (middle) shares the story of his battle with cancer while looking over scans of his brain with Rep. Mike Quigley (right).

Dr. P.J. Lukac (left), Rep. Mike Quigley (middle) and Dr. Priya Kumthekar (right) at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University’s Brain Tumor Institute.


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