My own treatment for endometrial cancer has been pretty much by the book: first surgery (hysterectomy plus bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy, or removal of uterus and both ovaries and fallopian tubes), then chemotherapy (doxorubicin and cisplatin). I was supposed to have had radiation, but at that juncture metastases to my lungs were found, which made pelvic radiation moot as a treatment strategy.
In other words, cut, poison, and burn was the planned treatment sequence I was supposed to experience, and that's still the case for the vast majority of people with cancer, solid tumors anyway. I imagine it's likely true that the surgery was helpful for me, because the tumor was large and had spread to several lymph nodes, not all of which could be completely resected. Chemo, however, appears to have been useless in my case; IIRC, the response rate to my particular cocktail is no better than about 35%. For that matter, chemotherapy as an adjuvant treatment of endometrial cancer is fairly recent: the standard of care for advanced disease until the past 20 years had been surgery plus radiation. Surgery plus radiation didn't work very well, and eventually an array of chemotherapies was developed. They do tend to work somewhat better than surgery plus radiation alone, but in my case they didn't.
Some women are fortunate enough to have a good, strong response to Megace, which is an artificial progesterone that interferes somehow with estrogen secretion. (Generally unknown fact: even post-menopause, surgical or natural, a woman's fat cells continue to create and share estrogen.) I was in that small group, fortunately, and so far so good.
But in no way have I encountered to this point any oncological treatment that was especially novel, much less experimental. No clinical trials, no targeted therapies. There aren't many of them for endometrial cancer at this point, though probably more now than there were five years ago. (I feel honor-bound to note that I have also pursued several other therapies considered complementary, and there's a good chance that these have had a synergistic effect along with the Megace.)
A recent article in the New York Times, "Patient's Cells Deployed to Attack Aggressive Cancer," renewed my curiosity about such innovative techniques, an interest which is usually not high on my awareness list. The patient featured in this article is a woman with metastatic bile duct cancer, whose prognosis was extremely limited until she became part of this experimental treatment.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute sequenced the genome of her cancer and identified cells from her immune system that attacked a specific mutation in the malignant cells. Then they grew those immune cells in the laboratory and infused billions of them back into her bloodstream.That's something, isn't it? The ultimate targeted therapy, so to speak.
The tumors began “melting away,” said Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, the senior author of the article and chief of the surgery branch at the cancer institute.
The woman is not cured: Her tumors are shrinking, but not gone. And an experiment on one patient cannot determine whether a new treatment works. But the report is noteworthy because it describes an approach that may also be applied to common tumors — like those in the digestive tract, ovaries, pancreas, lungs and breasts — that cause more than 80 percent of the 580,000 cancer deaths in the United States every year.
My general question for you tonight is whether you yourself, or the person for whom you give care, have had personal experience with a novel, allopathic treatment for cancer. If not, is it because there aren't any for your type of cancer, or because you haven't exhausted other options yet?
Yes, I'm leaving the definition of "novel and innovative" up to you. What's considered a standard of care for the hundreds of varieties of cancer is not something I'm qualified to determine, but I assume you can make educated statements about the one(s) with which you have the closest experience.
And, if you haven't had any such treatment at all and none is on the horizon (for some good reasons, like remission or cure, too), then I ask you to think about the methods of treatment you think seem promising. If you had several million dollars to fund a study, where would you put it and why?
Monday Night Cancer Club is a Daily Kos group focused on dealing with cancer, primarily for cancer survivors and caregivers, though clinicians, researchers, and others with a special interest are also welcome. Volunteer diarists post Monday evenings between 7-8 PM ET on topics related to living with cancer, which is very broadly defined to include physical, spiritual, emotional and cognitive aspects. Mindful of the controversies endemic to cancer prevention and treatment, we ask that both diarists and commenters keep an open mind regarding strategies for surviving cancer, whether based in traditional, Eastern, Western, allopathic or other medical practices. This is a club no one wants to join, in truth, and compassion will help us make it through the challenge together.