New Treatment Torpedoes Digestive Tract Cancer

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Jill Chadwick

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          Imagine a cancer treatment that attacks tumors like a torpedo, seeking and destroying the cancer from the inside out. Lynne Collinsworth was the first patient to undergo this targeted radiotherapy treatment, known as Lutathera, at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Collinsworth was diagnosed with liver cancer, which began in her digestive system. After two surgeries, the cancer came back, but since undergoing Lutathera treatment, she has a good chance of seeing her cancer reduced or even eliminated.

            Lutathera is a cancer-targeting drug using radioactively charged proteins to seek and attack the cancer cells. It’s been used successfully for 20 years in Germany and Switzerland, but was only recently given FDA approval for use in The United States. Clinical trials show Lutathera has an amazing success rate of 80%, while a cancer drug with a 30% chance of stopping the cancer progression is usually considered effective. Patients get four treatments of the drug, once every other month until they are finished. The side effects are minimal.

            In the video, Dr. Raed Al-Rajabi, a physician at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, says this is a very exciting time for cancer treatment. He says cancer in the digestive tract has very difficult to treat, and patients used to have limited options if the initial therapy didn’t keep the cancer from growing. He says this opens up a whole new option, though it’s only available in a few cancer centers around the country, including The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

            Also in the video, Dr. Wendell Yap, a radiologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Describes how the treatment works, and how this treatment is a great option for patients who are not candidates for surgery.

            Lynne Collinsworth describes her cancer diagnosis and treatment, including two surgeries, and what it was like to find out the cancer had returned. She says she’s thrilled to be the first to try the new Lutathera treatment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. She thinks this will be a “game changer” for cancer patients.

            The video also includes a bedside visit with Dr. Yap and Collinsworth, and  animation provided by the manufacturer, Advanced Accelerator Applications, showing how Lutathera works. It shows the dramatic difference in scans of a patient who just received the first injection and then just after receiving the second.