EYE ON HEALTH: New study offers hope to brain tumor patients
Senator John McCain brought the discussion about brain cancer to the forefront when he revealed his diagnosis in 2017.
While he may be the most well-known patient, the American Cancer Society predicts 80,000 people will be diagnosed with brain tumors this year.
However, a new study is giving patients hope.
When Lori Mines was diagnosed with brain cancer, she wasn't interested in hearing her odds.
Lori Mines says, "I didn't even want to know anything about it. I just basically wanted to be focused on trying to get better."
Two years later, Lori continues to fight. Though the prognosis is typically bleak, experts are giving those with malignant brain tumors new hope for a longer life through research to help predict tumor aggressiveness and survival based on individual tumor characteristics.
Dr. Arnab Chakravarti, researcher says, "It's been a black box historically. It's really been up to the preference of the physician and the patient without any solid data."
In a new study Dr. Arnab Chakravarti and his team tested the genetic makeup of patients’ brain tumors. This research looked specifically at gliomas, a type of brain tumor that can be cancerous or benign.
They found that survival among patients, who had a particular biomarker called MGMT promoter methylation, more than doubled when treated with specific chemotherapy and radiation.
Dr. Chakravarti says, "It's very important to personalize care for the individual patient and that's why biomarkers, prognostic and predictive biomarkers are so important."
Not only is the success of these individualized treatments giving some patients new hope, it's also giving them what they really want; more time to spend with their loved ones.
Kim Asbury, Lori's sister says, "My family and I, we've put aside everything regardless of what it is to make her days better and to have no regrets.”
Which is where Lori draws her strength to carry on.
Lori says, "I have persisted because there is no other option."
Experts say testing genetic markers will become the standard for patients with malignant brain tumors. They are also looking at targeted drug therapies as part of individualized treatment, all with the hope of increasing the rate of survival.