Revolutionary New Cancer Treatment?

From “The Conversation”:

Cancer growth in the body could originate from a single cell – target it to revolutionise treatment

Cancer remains a frightening and largely incurable disease. The toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation make the cure often seem as bad as the ailment, and there is also the threat of recurrence and tumour spread.Cancer treatment still follows a practically medieval method of cut, burn or poison. If the growth can’t be cut out through surgery, it may be burnt away with radiation or poisoned by chemotherapy. As a result, cancer therapy remains a daunting diagnosis for patients and treatment option

Source: The Conversation

GIST and Imatinib in the News

This article from The Times describes the remarkable drug that I’ve been taking for my (very rare) form of cancer – GIST, or Gastro Intestinal Stromal Tumour.

Fortunately for me, I’m in the sub-group with the KIT gene that the article says does particularly well on imatinib. My experience was that I was originally diagnosed almost three years ago with a massive tumour (26cm x 19cm) wrapped around my stomach. That was considered too big for surgery, and this particular form of tumour does not respond to either radiation or conventional chemotherapy, so I was put onto imatinib to reduce its size.

All I did was take one tablet daily with my breakfast. Some patients experience a range of nasty side -effects, but I was lucky: side-effects were minimal, with very little impact on my daily life. Regular 3-monthly scans immediately showed that the drug was having the desired effect, with definite shrinkage. However, there came a point where shrinkage ceased, with the tumour down to 19cm x 15cm: still big, but much more manageable. At that point, surgery was scheduled for February last year (2016).

Following surgery, I continue to take the drug, now to guard against regrowth. Every six months, I have a CT scan to check that indeed there is none. The last, in April, still showed all clear. The next scan will be in October – when I hope, that will still be the message.

Drug turns cancer from deadly disease to manageable illness

Cancer could become a manageable chronic disease like HIV for many patients, according to scientists running a drug trial.

Researchers found that a drug for advanced cancers of the gut and stomach kept a large minority of patients alive and mostly symptom-free for at least ten years after the start of the trial.

Experts said the “remarkable” discovery was a foretaste of a future in which people diagnosed with aggressive tumours that would once have been a death sentence may be able to resume their old lives for many years.

Since the turn of the millennium doctors have widely adopted a new class of chemotherapy known as targeted drugs, which attack a particular gene or protein that is known to be essential for the cancer’s development.

However, these medicines tend to be costly and usually extend the lives of patients by only a matter of months as the tumours mutate to resist their effects.

Full report: The Times & The Sunday Times

Related posts:

One year on from GIST surgery: (1) Diagnosis and early treatment

One year on from GIST surgery: (2) Surgery