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Innovative Brain Tumor Program delivers immediate access To Care

Posted on: 04/03/2006

Innovative Brain Tumor Program delivers immediate access To Care


LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga., (April 1, 2006) Time – it’s often said to be of the essence. That’s doubly true if you are a patient diagnosed with a brain tumor. Answers and treatment must come quickly. Gwinnett Brain Tumor Program is now putting more time on the side of patients in Gwinnett County and northeast Georgia through an innovative hotline and treatment that is closer to home.

Gwinnett Brain Tumor Program (GBTP) is the newly formed, collaborative effort of six Lawrenceville based physicians. Neurosurgeon, Dr. Princewill Ehirim, spearheads the program. He says the concept evolved to address the needs of critically ill patients who formerly had to seek treatment outside the local region to receive the most advanced care.

“Long commutes to distant treatment facilities add emotional and financial stress to brain tumor patients and their caregivers. Patients need access to the most effective treatments as close to home as possible,” says Dr. Ehirim, a practicing partner with North Georgia Neurosurgical Associates.

As the program’s architect, Dr. Ehirim followed the model of the renowned brain tumor program at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio where he received his neurosurgical training. The foundation of a brain tumor program is the creation of a multidisciplinary treatment team. Partnering with Dr. Ehirim, five board certified specialists have combined their expertise. Dr. Charles Wood, neurosurgeon with North Georgia Neurosurgical; Dr. Todd Williamson, neurologist with North Georgia Neurological Clinic; Dr. Richard Loyd, medical oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists; Dr. Christopher Hagenstad, medical oncologist with Suburban Hematology-Oncology Associates and Dr. Mark Quinn, medical director and radiation oncologist with Atlanta Oncology Associates’ Cancer Center of Gwinnett complete the group.

“Each physician routinely stays abreast of the latest medical research and technology in his individual practice,” says Dr. Ehirim. “Now we’ve joined together to create a team approach. Formalizing the treatment process under one program provides patients the complete range of therapies which are available through major cancer centers.”

According to the Brain Tumor Society, each year more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor. With over 120 different types of brain tumors, effective treatment can be complicated. In a population size of Gwinnett and the surrounding region, more than 100 people can be expected to receive this diagnosis annually.

Because symptoms can vary from patient to patient, making a brain tumor diagnosis can be difficult. Gwinnett Brain Tumor Program serves as a vital resource for primary care physicians with a diagnosed patient or a patient who presents suspicious symptoms. These symptoms may include: headaches that are not typical for the patient and do not improve over a period of a few weeks, weakness or numbness without clear explanation, unexplained seizure in an adult and nausea and/or vomiting that does not improve.

“Timely evaluation is critical,” notes Dr. Ehirim. To facilitate the evaluation and treatment process, GBTP has established a 24-hour Hotline. Each call is answered by a healthcare professional who consults with the patient or referring physician. Arrangement is made for an office assessment or, if necessary, emergency treatment is scheduled.

Patients who have been diagnosed with a brain tumor are typically first seen in Dr. Ehirim’s Lawrenceville office located adjacent to Gwinnett Medical Center on Medical Center Boulevard. Following evaluation, the patient receives diagnostic testing. Physicians then consult to create an individualized treatment plan. Depending upon the tumor characteristics, the patient may require one or a combination of therapies involving neurosurgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Radiosurgery, a newer advancement in brain tumor treatment, is one of GBTP’s most sophisticated technologies. Utilizing a precisely targeted beam of radiation, it is often referred to as “surgery without a scalpel”. According to Dr. Quinn, a physician with more than 13 years of experience in radiation therapy, radiosurgery may be used when open surgery is considered too difficult or dangerous. It achieves the same results of eradicating the tumor cells but is a noninvasive procedure.

The program’s completing components include a range of patient support services and access to clinical trials. Until recent years, a patient had to go outside his community to participate in clinical trials. “We assist the patient in enrolling in the appropriate trial and coordinate the care,” Dr. Ehirim says. “Again, this allows the patient to spend more time at home with his support network where he can focus on coping with illness.”

The program’s goal is to ensure each patient’s best chance for survival. “Our entire team is dedicated to providing hope through advanced therapies in a community setting. This is the reason Gwinnett Brain Tumor Program exists,” Dr. Ehirim states.

Gwinnett Brain Tumor Program is the first private, multidisciplinary treatment program for adult brain tumor patients in Georgia and among the first in the southeastern United States. The program’s physicians, therapists and support staff comprise a team of over fifty healthcare specialists.

More information can be obtained by logging onto the program’s website Consultations, referrals or emergency care can be arranged through the hotline number 1-888-831-8361.

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