We had an interesting visit today at MD Anderson! We started early with an MRI, blood tests and then moved on to see my Neuro-Oncologist, Dr. Conrad. He already looked at my MRIs from this morning and told us that in his opinion, the growth was recurring tumor growth, not radiation necrosis. We went over the new images and it appears that the tumor has grown an additional 1-2mm since February 2010, which is very slow. With that in mind, he told us that we have the luxury of time, and with that, several options. First of all, surgery is always an option. But there are a few clinical trials I may be a candidate for.
We discussed the surgery again and Holly brought up the blood vessel that goes right through the tumor. Dr. Conrad said that Dr. Lang (my neurosurgeon) is very patient and again gave me a warm fuzzy that he is, in fact, a badass. Dr. Conrad said Dr. Lang is very patient and would do everything possible to avoid cutting the vessel out. But since the tumor is taking it sweet time and I’m healthy he suggested several clinical trials which are very interesting.
First, there is a trial being conducted by the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network (CERN) Foundation specifically for my type of tumor, which is an ependymoma. Basically I’d be on a chemo drug and a new drug that is a signal inhibitor. It targets this type of tumor and I am a perfect candidate. I’ll have more details on this later, but you can read about it here. This would put any surgery off for several months until they see if this works. I could be on this treatment while in Austin, have blood tests there and only have to return to MDACC every two months for MRIs and would continue with the treatment as long as they see progress. Progress would be the tumor shrinking.
Another trial that I am eligible for is a very interesting one. There are two groups in this trial which has been researched by both of my doctors along with other doctors. In group A, they make a small incision to get to the tumor and inject a virus named Delta-24. It is a modified live virus. Sounds Sci-Fi, eh? They inject the virus directly into the tumor and it kills the tumor cells but leaves brain cells alone. In group B, they insert a catheter into the tumor and leave it there. They then inject the virus and in two weeks they suck the tumor out. Group B should be approved by the FDA for testing in the next few weeks. You can read about Delta-24 here and see both of my docs.
Lastly, there is another drug called 744 that will be out in trials in the near future. He didn’t talk a lot about it, but said it may also be a non-surgery option in another few months. There's a little about it here.
All of this is very interesting and does not mean this is my last hope, but rather because the tumor is so slow growing, is an opportunity to try an alternate treatment before another invasive surgery. Tomorrow morning we meet with Dr. Lang and discuss all these options again with him and maybe make a decision. I am excited to have the opportunity to participate in a trial and possibly make history with a new drug and maybe help save more lives in the future. We’ll have more info tomorrow after the appointment.
Again, thank you all for your prayers. Wow, what a road we have been traveling down. As for Holly and I, we are off to have some fun and are going to catch an Astros game tonight against the Washington Nationals, Can you believe I rooted for the Nats when I was in DC? I guess I felt sorry for them because they were new.