Head and neck cancer surgeon Christine Gourin and patient Jerry, who had a recurrence of laryngeal cancer, discuss his long-term response to immunotherapy as part of a clinical trial in which he participated in 2014, a time when research into immunotherapy as a potential cancer treatment was in its early days.
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In 2014, a @HopkinsKimmel patient participated in a clinical trial for immunotherapy as a potential treatment for head and neck cancer. Learn about the outcomes below.
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Yeah I met Jerry in 2014 after he had been reporting coarseness trouble swallowing and a sore throat for about six months. And on office exam he had a large angel cancer with a paralyzed vocal cord it was bulky and filled a lot of the airway. He was aspirating and he already had significant nodal disease. At the time. Of course we talked about options of surgical treatment and non surgical treatment. But unfortunately his imaging showed he had distant metastatic disease involving the lungs which takes courage of treatment off the table. I was in dire straits when I first got there. I mean the doctors up here only gave me um four months to live and that's with some treatment to help me live a little longer with the feed into when I got up there they didn't even say anything about a feeding tube and they wanted to put me on treatments you know right away. Yeah. So in 2014 the guideline recommended treatment for distant metastatic distant metastatic disease is systemic chemotherapy. And jerry started off with the combination of the usual agents platinum based chemotherapy, five F. U. And Cytoxan man. And the goal was never to cure disease because we know chemotherapy does not cure head and neck cancer. It was too pal e eight symptoms. Yeah after five months of chemotherapy he stopped treatment for three months because he had no evidence of disease on scans and he was feeling well. Unfortunately in september of that year eight months after the initial presentation he came to the office of internal metastases. and that's again a sign of distant metastatic disease that is spreading throughout the body through the bloodstream. And unfortunately, because he had already gone through most of the chemotherapeutic agents. Uh huh. And this had progressed despite that he was running out of options Fortunately at that time we participated in a clinical trial called J1337 which was a new trial aimed at studying immunotherapy in terminally ill patients who had already had conventional chemotherapy for metastatic disease and had failed. And so Jerry was a perfect candidate for this trial which looked at Pembroke. Pembroke is one of the monoclonal antibodies aimed at PD one receptor. So jerry was all game and signed up for the trial and his response has been nothing short of remarkable with the idea about a clinical trial would probably be better for me if it works. Mhm. And uh so she started beyond the mystery drug. There were quite a few of us on it before. Some of them had some bad reactions. And um um I never had any reactions but good off of it. It was just all good. Uh the the bumps where it metastasized on my neck. They started shrinking then when I was doing the uh the clinical trial, it wasn't hard on me at all. I would leave here, monday night, catch your plane, take the treatment. And most Tuesday nights I'd fly home. So I'd only be gone away one day, one full day. The J 1337 trial was one of the earliest trials looking at immunotherapy in head and neck cancer patients. I believe it includes included other cancer sometimes, but we really didn't know in 2014 if immunotherapy was going to be effective in head and neck cancer and which patients were going to respond and what the response rate would be and even what the side effect profile would be. So this trial utilized Embolism app and it entails infusions of Embolism had once every three weeks Indefinitely until we saw a response and Jerry had a total of I want to say 26 infusions and his scan showed a remarkable response. Yeah, Feel good for an old man. I mean honestly I'm 71 now And I feel I probably get around work better than summit of guys that are 50 and honestly I feel, I feel honest with you and uh 99% of the time I'm happiest man in the world still be alive and everybody still calls me the miracle man here and because I was a you know, dead man walking, he has been off treatment for over a year and continues to have no evidence of disease on scans and live a very active normal life. Yeah