Spectrum Health Announces West Michigan’s First Comprehensive Brain and Spine Tumor Center

Wendy Sherman, MD, joins team as region’s only board-certified, fellowship-trained neuro-oncologist

Spectrum Health announces West Michigan’s first center providing comprehensive, multidisciplinary and highly specialized care for patients with central nervous system tumors, brain metastases and neurological complications of cancer.

The Brain & Spine Tumor Center is led by Spectrum Health Medical Group board-certified specialists Todd Vitaz, MD, director, neurosurgical oncology; Wendy Sherman, MD, West Michigan’s only board-certified and fellowship-trained neuro-oncologist; and Kiran Taylor, MD, division chief, psychiatry and behavioral medicine.

“The Brain & Spine Tumor Center provides the region’s most advanced and innovative treatment options, including new and emerging therapies and protocols that are otherwise unavailable,” said Kenneth J. Fawcett, Jr., MD, interim president, Spectrum Health Medical Group. “In the area of neuro-oncology, a clinical expert of Dr. Sherman’s caliber greatly expands access to highly specialized care for patients with brain and spine tumors.”

  • Brain & Spine Tumor Center features include:
  • A dedicated neuro-oncology nurse navigator to coordinate care and services for the patient and his or her family or caregivers
  • A psychiatrist who provides behavioral oncology and supportive care services
  • A neuro-oncology tumor board where multiple specialists collaborate to determine accurate diagnoses and optimal treatment plans focused on patient survival with optimal quality of life
  • Multidisciplinary patient clinics, including a dedicated pituitary tumor clinic, where a patient meets with his or her clinical team to review and discuss the recommended treatment and care plan in a single visit
  • Advanced imaging, radiation and surgical technologies, including the region’s only high-field intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) for the most complete tumor removal possible
  • Partnerships with referring physicians for initial diagnosis, entire case management or second opinion consultation

“The incidence of primary brain cancer is increasing across the nation,” said Dr. Vitaz. “Our Brain & Spine Tumor Center improves the quality and efficiency of care available in West Michigan and allows patients to remain closer to home, family and community support systems.”

Neuro-oncology is a new sub-specialty of neurology focusing on neurological, medical and oncologic treatments, with, at present, only eight accredited fellowship programs in the U.S. Dr. Sherman is the first neuro-oncologist in West Michigan and is one of the few board-certified neuro-oncologists in the nation. As part of the Brain & Spine Tumor Center multidisciplinary team, Dr. Sherman treats patients with primary brain and spine tumors, metastatic tumors that have spread to the brain, and the neurologic complications of cancer and its treatment including migraines, seizures and neuropathy.

“There is a great need by patients in the region for the type of integrated care that the center provides,” Dr. Sherman said. “I was attracted by the opportunity to join a team of talented physicians and researchers working together to fulfill that need by developing optimal treatment plans for patients, families and caregivers.”

Dr. Sherman’s clinical and research interests include tumors of the brain such as gliomas and meningiomas, brain metastases, leptomeningeal disease, a rare, but deadly cancer complication, and epilepsy secondary to brain tumors. Her neuro-oncology fellowship training included work with patients involved in clinical trials using novel treatments for primary and metastatic brain tumors and her research is published in the field.

Dr. Sherman earned her medical degree from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, where she also completed her neurology residency, serving as chief resident, and fellowship in neuro-oncology. While completing her training in Chicago, Dr. Sherman treated many patients from West Michigan who now will not have to leave the region for this high level of care.

The Brain & Spine Tumor Center patient clinics are located in the Spectrum Health Medical Group Neurosurgery offices, 25 Michigan Street NE, Suite 6100, in Grand Rapids. For referrals and consultations, call 616.267.7900. For more information, visit the website.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 11 hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 173 ambulatory and service sites; 960 advanced practice providers and employed physicians including members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart physician groups; and Priority Health, a health plan. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 20,800 employees. The organization provided $250 million in community benefit during its 2013 fiscal year.