condemned to die within 12 months, he is cured thanks to immunotherapy
- The bile ducts are the channels that carry bile from the liver – where that digestive juice that aids digestion is produced – to the gallbladder where it is stored between meals.
- Each year, in France, 2,000 people are affected by cancer of the bile ducts according to the French National Society of Gastroenterology.
“I asked my doctor to be honest with me, and tell me how much time I had left [à vivre], explained Robert Glynn, a 51-year-old English welder, to the media Guardian. She told me 12 months“. And yet, today, this patient who had cancer of the bile ducts is completely cured. It is not a miracle, but the result of an immunotherapy treatment that he received in the part of a clinical trial.
Very advanced bile duct cancer
Robert Glynn’s story dates back to 2019. When he was only 49 years old, doctors diagnosed him with bile duct cancer at a very advanced stage. Indeed, in addition to the bile ducts, his adrenal glands and liver are affected. Practitioners believe that the tumors are not operable. The disease is therefore incurable and the patient’s life prognosis should not exceed 12 months.
There are two types of bile duct cancer, or cholangiocarcinoma, depending on the French National Society of Gastroenterology (SNFGE). The first is said to be intrahepatic and is manifested by a tumor of the liver. The second, called extrahepatic, is related to a narrowing of the bile duct. In most cases, the symptoms of bile duct cancer appear at an advanced stage, which explains why they are generally fatal, as specified in the MSD Manual.
Immunotherapy treatment, hope for patients
For the management of his cancer, Robert Glynn is directed towards the christie foundationspecializing in the treatment of cancer in Europe and managed by the United Kingdom’s public health system, the National Health Service (NHS). He then began an immunotherapy treatment, already approved for cancers of the lung, kidney and esophagus, but which is still at the clinical trial stage for that of the bile ducts. According to Gustave Roussy Cancer Center, immunotherapy”consists of using the body’s immune defenses to attack cancer cells and destroy them”.
Thanks to this treatment, supplemented by traditional chemotherapy sessions, Robert Glynn’s tumors shrank and became operable. So, last January, the surgeons performed the operation to remove them. Result: post-operative analysis of these tumors shows that none contained active cancerous cells. This is therefore a very encouraging result for the clinical trial currently underway.
“Most patients with this diagnosis [de cancer] don’t have as many mutations in their cancer cells, so treatment won’t be as effective, but it highlights the importance of personalized medicinesays Juan Valle, oncologist at the Christie Foundation. This could lead to a change in the way we treat patients like Robert in the future“.
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