Richard Curry, MD, was a medical resident when he realized he had a mind for neurology and a heart for people who had cancer. That duality of thought and feeling led him to pursue a unique fellowship, one that wedded neurology and oncology. More recently, Dr. Curry’s hybrid training has led to the establishment of two new clinics at the UC Neuroscience Institute and the UC Cancer Institute, two of the four institutes of the UC College of Medicine and UC Health.
The two new clinics are:
- A Neuro-Oncology Clinic for patients with primary or metastatic brain cancer
- A Neurological Complications of Cancer Clinic for patients with all types of cancer who are suffering neurological side-effects
Dr. Curry, an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and an Assistant Professor of Neurology, is seeing patients in these clinics at the Barrett Center at the UC Medical Center. He is seeing patients with primary and metastatic brain cancer on Wednesdays (1-4:30 p.m.), and he is seeing patients with all other types of cancer who are experiencing neurologic symptoms on Thursdays (8 a.m.-12 p.m.).
Dr. Curry notes that of all patients who develop cancer, 15 percent will develop neurologic complications, many of which are treatable. Those complications include:
- increased intracranial pressure
- leptomeningial disease, which occurs when cancer cells spread to the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord
In his Neuro-Oncology Clinic, Dr. Curry is evaluating and treating two groups of patients: those whose tumors started in the brain and those whose cancer started elsewhere in the body and has metastasized to the brain. “An important focus of this Neuro-Oncology Clinic involves offering early-phase clinical trials to patients with all types of brain tumors,” Dr. Curry says. “The clinic creates a unique opportunity by providing traditional medical oncology treatments for patients with complicated neurologic disease.”
Through the Neurological Complications of Cancer Clinic, Dr. Curry will work closely with patients and their oncologists to develop or fine-tune a treatment plan that takes neurological side-effects into account.
He will spend the rest of his time seeing patients at the UC Medical Center and in his neurology practice, which covers conditions ranging from cerebrovascular disease (stroke) to multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Curry, a graduate of Miami University and the University of Toledo College of Medicine, developed his hybrid approach to cancer and the brain during his neurology residency at UC. A two-month rotation in hematology/oncology awakened him to the rewards of working with cancer patients and their families. And as his residency training continued, his understanding of “the overlap between neurology and cancer” gained clarity and began to crystallize as a vision for his future.
While working with Ronald Warnick, MD, Medical Director of the UC Brain Tumor Center, and the center’s radiation oncologists, Dr. Curry determined that he might be able to develop a special niche at the intersection of neurology and cancer, and he began to investigate fellowships that offered training in that specialized area. Dr. Curry found the fellowship he was looking for at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Dr. Curry says he has been drawn to people with cancer because they share an outlook that is informed by the urgency of their disease. “They are the most loving patients that you could have,” Dr. Curry says. “They appreciate everything, anything, that you can offer them.
“Usually, in my experience, the patient is the strongest person within his or her family. I’ve always found it inspiring to have patients like that. My patients are one of the main reasons why I enjoy coming to work in the morning.
“It’s refreshing to see patients in my clinic with all kinds of cancer and to be able to say, ‘This is the plan that we designed, and together, we are seeing results.”