I went in to Beth Israel this past Monday for my scan and results meeting. The news was not what we wanted and hoped for: Growth in the two target lesions. The good news is that the growth is minimal and very slow -2mm in each lesion over a period of two months. My doctors think that I have very little cancer that is hard to find and that it is very slow growing. So, the IL2 did not educate my immune system to recognize the tumor cells and kill them.
OK what do we do now?
Dr. Cho told me about Phase 2 testing at Beth Israel of Medarex’s anti-PD1-antibody and I have a slot for the September phase. For those of us not familiar with this new treatment, they give patients four shots – one every other week – in the leg. They scan a couple of months after the last shot. There are no side effects and it is an outpatient procedure. They have had some great results with a variety of cancer patients including RCC and melanoma.
Here are some links about the treatment and what it does:
And a promising conclusion: The combination of PD-1 blockade with GM-CSF-secreting tumor cell immunotherapy leads to significantly improved antitumor responses by augmenting the tumor-reactive T-cell responses induced by the cellular immunotherapy. Readministration of the cellular immunotherapy with the anti-PD-1 antibody in subsequent immunotherapy cycles was required to reactivate these T-cell responses.
I’ll post about the personal side of this setback later tonight. I’m not a wallower mind you, but this was indeed a suckerpunch (thank you Shaun for the metaphor).