Zachary Corbin, MD, is a neuro-oncologist who primarily treats patients with brain cancers, including glioblastoma and glioma. He also sees patients with any cancer type who may be experiencing neurologic complications from their treatment. For example, chemotherapy can cause peripheral neuropathy, a loss of feeling and movement in the hands and feet. Additionally, Dr. Corbin specializes in the treatment of paraneoplastic syndromes, a group of rare disorders that form when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the nervous system.
Dr. Corbin chose neurology as a specialty, in part, because he appreciates the extra time neurologists need to spend interviewing and conducting tests with patients in order to assess how their brains are functioning. “It’s amazing to get to know the patient’s story and to see exactly what is going on in the brain and nervous system,” he says.
For him, one of the most important aspects of care is hearing the patient’s story. “I always make it a point to listen to their experiences,” Dr. Corbin says. “If someone had a seizure, I want them to tell me, as best they can remember it, what they experienced. Sometimes, I ask them questions that no one has asked them before—even if I’m the 24th person to have heard the story.”
In addition to helping patients understand their diagnoses, Dr. Corbin looks for ways to convey complicated, multi-step treatment plans in small, manageable bits of information. “It’s very common for patients to come back for the first follow-up and think they are done,” he says. “But then we say, ‘Well, this is actually a long process and you’re doing great.’ And we go through the steps again. Repetition and brevity are helpful.”
As a physician-researcher, Dr. Corbin collaborates with other neurologic specialists to understand the role that metabolic changes in the body might play in the origins of cancer.