Recently, I received a call from a previous patient for whom I was not the treating oncologist.
Originally, she had heard about our work on a radio interview and asked her physician in Ohio to send a sample to our laboratory, Rational Therapeutics (now Nagourney Cancer Institute).
Unbeknownst to me, after beginning therapy, the patient had a prompt and dramatic response.
When the patient recently contacted me, I cursorily examined the chart prior to our discussion and noted the date of June 24. At first, I thought the patient was showing evidence of progression barely two months after our analysis.
Recognizing that no test is perfect and that even our best recommendations may not work, I contacted the patient to discuss her case. It was only then that I realized that indeed the assay data was from 14 months ago and that her response had been excellent for more than a year.
After congratulating the patient on her good outcome and discussing modifications in her therapy (predicated on some x-ray findings of early progression) I asked what her physician’s reaction to the good result had been. The response was muted.
Indeed, the physician, having witnessed a rather remarkably good response, only commented that she knew the patient wouldn’t be cured.
Recognizing that metastatic pancreatic cancer has an objective response rate measured in single digits and a median overall survival of 4-6 months, I was disappointed to realize that a patient who was well 14 months after diagnosis didn’t seem to impress the treating oncologist.
We are now engaged in reviewing the patient’s diagnostic studies to determine if the EVA-PCD findings will provide information to further guide therapy.
While I was very realistic with the patient — explaining that there is no certainty that further benefit can be obtained — there are, in fact, a number of drugs that could hold benefit for the patient. These including: erlotinib, irinotecan and a number of novel combinations.
We will be interested to see if further good results can be obtained and are gratified by the patient’s good outcome to date.