Now, where was I? Yes, my stomach cancer.
As revealed through multiple medical and scientific screening tests (CT scan, Gastroscopy and tissue biopsy histopathogy) followed by consideration of the data by a multidisciplinary panel of experts I can now declare that I am the proud owner of a gastric, poorly differentiated, adenocarcinoma (Stage IV – don’t omit that bit). This is really important because that is what makes it inoperable – it has spread into my abdomen and is not confined within the stomach wall – unfortunately for me.
I used to teach some of this stuff – brings back fond memories of my Bradford University days in the School of Biomedical Sciences (1977-1996).
So, as far as us inoperable types are concerned chemotherapy is pretty much the only option. Inoperable, eh? Well, actually I can ride a bike, drive a car, have flown a small plane, and oh yes, been sick on a boat, ferry and even atop my Cuban-heeled boots from the 1970s, so I can operate some things, so there!
As mentioned previously, a recent discovery that some people (about 10%) have a very specific gene (HER2) confers an advantage to them. They may have longer periods of dormancy of their gastric cancer following treatment with their Chemo. In other words, it allows a Chemo regime that contains Herceptin. This is a monoclonal antibody (MAB) that binds to cells that have the HER2 protein expressed on their surface, after which the cells become more sensitive to the killing (cytotoxicity) of the chemicals in the drug cocktail. In this case the cocktail has two components: the MAB called trastuzumab (or Herceptin) given together with Chemo, but only for patients in a clinical trial to determine if having higher doses of Herceptin alongside chemotherapy will help more people than the standard dose currently used.
There are also other trials ongoing, but hey, I’m not getting one of those potential benefits, so who is kidding who here, am I bovvered, right now anyway? I am actually, but I thought I’d try to look cool using that famous Tony Blair Red Nose Day word!
Another trial is looking at another MAB called onartuzumab with chemotherapy for advanced HER2 negative stomach cancer (that’s me, I’m one of them!). This is more like it, maybe I’ll survive long enough for there to be some published outcomes of targeting a receptor on cancer cells called Met. The people in this trial have cancer cells with large numbers of Met receptors. “The researchers want to see if onartuzumab and chemotherapy is better than chemotherapy alone, and to learn more about side effects.”
Oh my, isn’t science and medicine complicated, but wonderful? Finally, (for me anyway – me brain is hurting nearly as much as me belly!), the REAL3 trial examined how well a MAB called panitumumab (Vectibix), a drug which acts like a growth factor blocker, worked together with my own very Chemo combo: standard EOX chemotherapy (epirubicin, oxaliplatin and capecitabine) on advanced stomach cancer. Unfortunately, the study didn’t find any benefit from having pantitumumab (Vectibix).
I have Weetabix every morning these days, perhaps I should start my own trial? Back to the drawing board, eh? Me too!! CYA tomorrow; LOL. Now is that cool enough? Nearly – like a ‘cold cap’, eh?
PS You can find (really detailed) information about biological therapy trials for stomach cancer if this little lot is not enough for you, via the Cancer Research Campaign website (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org, Accessed 25 November, 2015) on their clinical trials database.