Stage 4 Uterine Cancer -
Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma
(UPSC): Tina Brutsch
Healthy has been my lifestyle for as long as I can remember. I eat mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. My exercise regimen has always been demanding and rewarding.
During my yearly GYN check up in February of 2008, my vaginal ultrasound revealed my uterus had become thick.
Diagnosis - Stage 4 Uterine Cancer
A follow up biopsy revealed uterine papillary serous carcinoma, "UPSC".
After completing a radical hysterectomy, it was determined that I had stage 4 uterine cancer that had migrated to my liver and peritoneum. A follow up course of chemotherapy was prescribed.
We initiated an extensive search for local oncologists and solicited their opinion for the most effective chemotherapy. Local knowledge of UPSC treatment was lacking.
Our research discovered a Phase I/II UPSC clinical research study at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX. Our choice to seek treatment at M.D. Anderson was guided by their reputation of success in treating cancer.
The trial randomly assigned patients to Taxol or to Taxol plus an experimental drug.
I was assigned to the Taxol arm and received Taxol every three weeks for six treatments. To test the success of my chemotherapy, a CT scan was done and revealed no evidence of cancer in September of 2008.
When we returned to M.D. Anderson Hospital in January 2009 for a follow up, I pointed out a small bump on the right side of my groin and requested a needle biopsy.
My Uterine Cancer Comes Back
The biopsy results indicated that the cancer had returned and a subsequent PET scan confirmed this. The oncologist at M.D. Anderson advised me that the chemotherapy had been ineffective and that they had nothing further to offer.
My oncologist stated that I had about 6-8 months to live.
Dismayed by the news, we remembered that when we had first investigated cancer treatment options, one oncologist/scientist located in Long Beach, California had been strongly recommended.
Meeting Dr. Nagourney
His name was Dr. Robert Nagourney, the medical and laboratory director of Rational Therapeutics (now Nagourney Cancer Institute).
Upon returning to Los Angeles from Houston, we immediately made an appointment. Dr. Nagourney scheduled a surgical biopsy of the tumor in my groin to allow him to analyze the activity of drugs/combinations on my tumor using functional profiling.
My Functional Profiling Results
One week later, Dr. Nagourney contacted us and told us the good news.
He had identified excellent activity for a two-drug combination that he had previously used successfully in ovarian, breast, and cervical cancer patients.
On March 6, 2009, I began the first of a series of six treatments. By the third course my tumor marker (CA 125) had returned to normal and my PET scan was clean.
After the sixth cycle, I am in complete remission and now continue to receive maintenance therapy about once per month.
The "death sentence" that I received in Texas has been commuted and I am enjoying every day of my life thanks to our willingness to go the extra mile and our good fortune in finding Dr. Nagourney.