Charlotte’s Web Director Gary Winick: Gone too soon.

Independent -turned-studio-filmmaker Gary Winick has died.  The 49-year-old first made a name as an independent film maker of  films such as “Tape” and “Tadpole.” He later made the studio films Charlotte’s Web30 Going on 13, and most recently Letters to Juliet. Winick was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago, and after an initial surgery went on to direct Letters to Juliet. However, the cancer metastasized to other areas in the body, and he died at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City on Sunday.

Although the specific type of tumor has not been reported, it is most likely an astrocytoma, the most common cause of primary brain tumors in adults. A primary tumor means that the cancer started from cells within the brain tissue, rather than originating (metastasized) from a cancer elsewhere in the body. There are two types of cells in brain tissue- neurons, which send and receive messages, and glial cells, which protect, nourish, and physically support neurons. Astocytomas develop from star-shaped glial cells (astrocytes) that support neurons. Although they can occur anywhere in the brain, they are most commonly found in the frontal lobes. Because the brain is enclosed in the skull, symptoms from brain tumors are caused by increased pressure in the brain, damage to brain cells, or injuries to the nerves coming from the brain. This leads to symptoms which include:

  • Headaches (usually worse in the morning)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in the ability to talk, hear or see
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Problems with thinking or memory
  • Muscle jerking or twitching (seizures)
  • Numbness or tingling in arms or legs

The diagnosis is made by imaging studies of the brain–either CT scan or MRI scan–and followed by biopsy to reveal the specific tumor type. Treatment will depend on the tumor type, size, and location, and may consist of surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.

For more information about brain caner, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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