Key points from today’s guests:
Sylvia Byer, Ph.D., triple negative breast cancer patient
- In 2019, Sylvia was visiting family in Italy when she felt a lump in her breast. She had it checked and was diagnosed with triple negative cancer – a very aggressive form.
- She got a second opinion at The University of Kansas Cancer Center and enrolled in a clinical trial that provided quick results.
- The drug (Keytruda) was approved to treat triple negative breast cancer a couple of years after she participated in the trial.
- This was actually a trial designed and supported The University of Kansas Cancer Center, so it was a very limited trial.
- She is in remission and doing very well.
Dr. Priyanka Sharma, medical oncologist, The University of Kansas Cancer Center
- Triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all breast cancers. If you look at the three major subtypes of breast cancer, it's this is the least common subtype. But it tends to be more aggressive and a little bit less curable than the other two subtypes.
- We call it triple negative because it lacks the three common proteins that other cancers have for which we have targeted drugs. It's primarily treated with chemotherapy. And in the last few years, we've had the advent of immunotherapy to treat this type of breast cancer which has actually made quite a significant number of improvements in outcome.
- Treatment is typically an intense longer process of a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy that's given together for about five to six months. And it is usually done before the surgery, then surgery follows and, for those that need radiation, radiation follows surgery.
- For some patients, there might be more treatment after radiation, including more immunotherapy and chemotherapy and that's typically based on the response that we've seen with the initial chemo immunotherapy.
- Cancer is such a traumatic diagnosis and the treatment that one receives is so important, I always tell my patients you have to feel comfortable and confident in the opinion you get. And sometimes just having a second opinion validates what you already heard. Other times it gives you different perspectives or options for clinical trials to participate in, so patients should seek it out.
Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer, The University of Kansas Health System
- Comprehensive cancer centers have unique access to clinical trials like this for patients.
- For doctors to support a second opinion, that's just the right thing to do if you're really going to be a patient advocate.
- Thanks to our patient community for endorsing and participating in research and if it wasn't for their strength and bravery, we wouldn't find new treatments.
- If it wasn't for patients like Sylvia who took the chance on a clinical trial, other patients after them wouldn't be able to benefit from newer treatments.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, director of infection & prevention control, The University of Kansas Health System
- The hospital is at 16 active COVID infections.
- According to the CDC website, they are seeing an overall decreasing trend for hospitalizations for COVID, which is good news.
- Those at greatest risk have the risk factors, especially age and other comorbid conditions, like lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and especially immunosuppression.
- A JAMA study on mask usage found a 20 percent reduced transmission for those people that wore masks as opposed to those people that did not.
Friday, Nov. 17 at 8 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. New epilepsy treatment involving responsive neurostimulation can help prevent seizures before they happen.
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