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Cancer Institute adds Neuro-Oncologist Leader to Growing Program

December 11, 2017

A growing Neuro-Oncology program and the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute’s membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance mean more hope and treatment options for brain cancer patients. 

In August, Ahmad Daher, MD, PhD, was named medical director of neuro-oncology for the Cancer Institute and is seeing patients with primary brain tumors and working with the brain tumor management team to oversee the care of patients before and after surgery.  Dr. Daher will also see patients with cancers of the nervous system and those with non-brain cancers suffering from neurological conditions, such as seizures, headaches, weakness and neuropathies, caused by their cancer and their cancer therapy.  In July, the Institute also added Donna M. Avanecean, APRN, who has many years of experience in managing various neurological conditions, to increase the clinic’s capacity to see and treat patients.

Dr. Daher says the growth of the program has meant access to more clinical trials for brain tumor patients.

“We want to increase the number of therapeutic options available to our brain tumor patients. We are working on bringing trials sponsored by national consortia like the National Institutes of Health and NRG Oncology (a program of the National Cancer Institute) to our patients, and eventually initiate our own trials through the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute,” says Daher. “We also have an active collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that will allow us to open some of their trials for our patients.”

“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Daher to the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.  He joins a talented multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, psychiatrists, nurses and social workers who are focused on the best individualized treatment for patients with brain tumors.    He will also serve a crucial role in the Institute’s ability to offer the latest clinical trials to our brain cancer patients,” says Dr. Peter Yu, Physician-in-Chief of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.

Dr. Daher says the program is also actively working to secure molecular analysis on resected brain tumors from each patient in search of known cancer mutations to help guide a more personalized therapy.

“Our main goal is to be strong advocates for our patients,” says Daher. “We want to address all their symptoms, understand all the side effects they may encounter from therapy, and work on finding the right balance between treating them and helping them maintain a good quality of life. We will be with them through this journey every step of the way,” Daher says.

In addition, Daher says the growth of program has increased teaching opportunities with two neurology residents currently doing rotations in the clinic and a third resident to come in the near future.