'60 Minutes' Turns Camera on Duke Brain Tumor Center
By JIM SHAMP firstname.lastname@example.org; 419-6633
Sunday, April 07, 2002
Final Edition Durham Section
Brain Tumor Center at Duke will be the subject of an unusual two-segment edition of the CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" tonight.
Three patients of Duke neuro-oncologist Henry Friedman are the focus of the nationally televised feature. The show airs at 7 p.m. on local TV station WRAL.
Correspondent Ed Bradley began following the patients about 15 months ago as they began treatment at Duke: Taylor Black of Stuart, Fla.; David Bailey of Stafford, Va.; and John Ormond of New York City.
In a relatively rare commitment of airtime, the "60 Minutes" programmers are dedicating two standard-length segments of tonight's show to their stories.
Duke doctors Henry Friedman, Allan Friedman (no relation) and Darell Bigner lead the program. Allan Friedman is chief of Duke's neurosurgery division. Bigner is deputy director of the comprehensive cancer center and runs the lab for the brain tumor program.
Henry Friedman's approach to therapy incorporates experimental techniques such as monoclonal antibodies - artificially produced protein "bullets" designed to target specific problems in the body.
Some scientists criticize the use of any potentially harmful therapies not fully tested and "blessed" as safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But Friedman argues the otherwise high mortality associated with the most deadly forms of brain cancers justifies patients' decisions to take chances on unproven approaches.
"The fact is, only about 10 to 15 percent of our patients survive the hardest cancers, like glioblastomas, three to five years out," said Henry Friedman. "The majority of our patients die. That's the way it is. But we believe we can do better than lots of places."
"Most places believe you're dead with that kind of diagnosis," he said. "We have a motto here that says, 'At Duke, there is hope.' We believe that. ... We have great science, a really talented staff, technical skills, excellent lab work. Plug that into the clinic, along with hope, and that's it. That's what makes us great."
Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer death in people under age 20 and third-leading cancer among adults age 20 to 39. But research is hard to focus because there are more than 120 types of brain tumors.
As in other cancers, treatment of brain tumors typically involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Such therapy can save lives, though it often results in long-term side effects because it involves the central nervous system.
>Duke's brain tumor research program was founded in 1937, one of the first in the United States. It has more than 100 clinical and laboratory staff members working solely on brain and spinal cord tumors affecting some 2,000 patients.
The Brain Tumor Center's Family Support Center, directed by Bebe Guill, an ordained minister, helps some 700 families cope with the challenges presented by brain tumors.
Guill said her staff of 50 is girding for an expected tidal wave of phone calls and other contacts from the "60 Minutes" airing.
"There's a lot of excitement," she said Thursday. "We heard the Duke Rice Diet Center got thousands of calls after '60 Minutes' featured them a while ago."
The "60 Minutes" crew filmed some of the family support sessions and reportedly will include some of that footage in today's show.
"There's so much human drama in this business," Guill said. "They had great access to our program, and I think they were pleasantly surprised. ... We work with the whole patient, not just their disease, and with the whole family, not just the patient."