Last Thursday we saw a 32 year old female with metastatic rectal cancer who had received all the best therapies so far but her oncologist was running out of treatment options.
The patient was not ready to give up and was looking for other options from clinical trials. She contacted our center to get more information on a number of clinical trials. We met with her and her parents to discuss potential treatment possibilities for her.
She was excited to hear that there were more treatment options which made sense for colon cancer. We discussed a number of clinical trials, all of which had some good rationale. She understood that there is no guarantee that any of these drugs will work and that it is difficult to choose one over another.
These patients know their prognosis, and they just want to hear what else can be done. They want honesty and commitment that there is something more to try.
The new drugs being developed are all designed based on specific tumor characteristics. They are targeted agents and therefore don’t have the same side effects as classical chemotherapy. In phase I trials, we just try to find out what doses patients can tolerate. However with the new drugs this is more difficult since their side effects are different than what we are used to seeing, but these novel agents can be effective at very low dose levels.
For this young woman, we chose a new drug from Novartis called EPO906 in combination with Celebrex® (celecoxib) because we have seen tumor shrinkage in patients in similar situations like hers.
We always try to have all novel agents which are promising for colon cancer in form of clinical trials available for our patients because we want to learn about these new drugs as early as possible. The more we know the better we can treat.
We are aggressively pursuing biotech companies to help them develop novel drugs, and we offer to design the clinical trials for them. As you read before, we are developing our own trials based on our molecular research.
When standard chemotherapy is exhausted, you should learn about clinical trials. First, clinical trials can help you explore additional options. In addition, you can be part of cancer research to understand how new drugs work and how to develop and use them.
For more information about finding clinical trials go to the C3 website. You can search for trials on the National Cancer Institute website or call or email the C3 Answer Line at 1-877-4CRC-111. You can also contact an NCI-designated Cancer Center near you.