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A specialist interest in neuro-oncology

Dr Dorothy Joe [pictured below, right] reflects on why more neurologists should consider a specialist interest in neuro-oncology.

Dr Dorothy JoeDr Dorothy Joe has just taken up the first post–CCT fellowship in neuro–oncology for neurologists in the country. This new post was set up as part of King’s Health Partners Neurosciences’ drive to become a leading centre for education and training. Dorothy is working across King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. In this blog, she reflects on why more neurologists should consider a specialist interest in neuro-oncology.

What is a post-CCT fellowship?

Doctors are awarded a certificate of completion of training (CCT) when they finish their speciality training, which allows them to apply for a consultant post. Post–CCT fellowships are aimed at trainees who want to take their training further and develop advanced expertise in a subspecialty. King’s Health Partners is a great place to offer these fellowships because of the large number of regional units.

Why neuro–oncology?

Unlike many neurology trainees, I was lucky to have had a taster experience in neuro–oncology as a junior trainee at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. During the latter half of my specialist training, I undertook extended rotations in neuro-oncology at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, as well as the neurofibromatosis unit at Guy’s Hospital. I was actively involved as part of the multidisciplinary team, which I enjoyed greatly.

What were your first steps in neuro-oncology?

My first step in developing a specialist interest in neuro-oncology was to audit the management of patients with glioma mimics. Glioma mimics are neurological conditions that present with the symptoms and radiological findings resembling a brain tumour. Making the correct diagnosis quickly is vital and can be lifesaving because it enables the right management to be started. I presented my findings with recommendations at the Association of British Neurologists and at the British Neuro-oncology Society in 2019. The audit made me realise that neurologists have much to offer to oncology patients.

What do you want to achieve during your post-CCT fellowship?

As a post–CCT fellow in neuro–oncology, I have three main goals:

  1. to improve the overall experience of our brain tumour patients by working closely with neurosurgeons and oncologists in the neuro-oncology multidisciplinary team.
  2. to build clinical experience in managing patients who develop neurological complications as a result of new immunotherapies, such as the Chimeric Antigen Receptor T–cells (CAR–T) treatment for haematological cancers. There is a possibility that CAR-T immunotherapy can be extended to solid tumours, such as gliomas. I would like to be part of this work.
  3. to foster better clinical training of neurologists in neuro–oncology.

What advice would you have for someone applying for a post-CCT fellowship?

I would start by speaking to the supervising consultant in the subspecialty. This fellowship was set up by Dr Gerald Finnerty (gfinnerty@nhs.net), who is the lead for education and training at King’s Health Partners Neurosciences. So, I started by speaking with him. I also contacted Dr Katia Cikurel, consultant neurologist at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who previously supervised me as a registrar. In addition, I would suggest reaching out to the other specialities that you will be working with.

What do you value most about being part of King’s Health Partners?

King’s Health Partners is one of the few places in the country that can offer excellent opportunities for post-CCT training combined with high-level research. A post-CCT fellowship is an intense year, giving me time to become fully integrated into clinical and research teams. This, in turn, allows me to gain a deeper understanding of how the multidisciplinary team works and develop research interests.  

At King’s Health Partners Neurosciences we deliver outstanding research and education, and drive excellence in care and equity for patients with neurological conditions.

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