Cancer Commons, a not-for-profit network of patients, physicians, and scientists that help identify the best options for treating an individual’s cancer, announced the launch of a new program to identify personalized treatment options for children with brain cancer. The program is funded by a generous lead gift from Atherton resident Sheri Sobrato Brisson, a pediatric brain tumor survivor and advocate for children with serious illness, and her husband Eric Brisson.
“We are motivated to help children with brain cancer by giving their physicians and families access to the best treatment plans,” said Sheri. “Diagnosis is a frightening time, and patients and their families need help to quickly sort through vast, confusing amounts of information to assure them that they are making the best possible choices.”
In the case of pediatric brain cancer, a child’s family must make urgent life and death decisions, often without access to validated data. Physicians struggle with conflicting expert opinions and information overload. Not surprisingly, treatments, outcomes and quality of life vary dramatically across physicians and institutions, falling off dramatically from elite cancer centers to community practices, especially in rural, disadvantaged, and economically developing area worldwide.
In the absence of definitive clinical studies, the best way to improve outcomes is by aggregating and validating the insights and intuitions of our best clinicians, and by learning from the experiences of every patient, especially those being treated at top institutions with investigational drugs and procedures. Unfortunately, the results of these individualized experiments are seldom reported, so little is learned from them.
The new initiative will refer pediatric brain cancer cases to expert physicians and capture their treatment recommendations and reasoning, as well as the clinical results. Additionally, on a pilot basis, the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute will provide treatment recommendations based on a tumor’s molecular signature through their Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative.
Cancer Commons will analyze all the data for actionable insights and rapidly disseminate these to other patients and professionals at the point of care through a knowledge-sharing platform, called Casebook, being developed with UCSC.
“We are honored to partner with the Brissons and to draw on Sheri’s vast experience in pediatric brain cancer to bring about the best possible outcomes for children,” said Marty Tenenbaum, Founder and Chairman of Cancer Commons.
Photo of Sheri Sobrato Brisson by Irene Searles (c) 2014