Cancer research opens new options and better outcomes

May 16, 2024

Carole was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2020 shortly after retiring. The diagnosis came as a shock in no small part because Carole hadn’t smoked in over 40 years, and even then only socially. Curious about factors that cause lung cancer, Carole had her home tested for radon – a leading cause of lung cancer – and learned that the levels in her home were very high.

Carole saw a thoracic surgeon and had a biopsy, PET scan, and CT scan to stage her cancer. This confirmed that surgery would not be an option and she soon began chemotherapy and immunotherapy. A follow-up CT scan revealed that the treatment was working on her lung but also showed that her lymph nodes had grown, indicating that the cancer was still growing.

Carole then had a series of genomic tests to determine her cancer biomarker. The outcome of those tests resulted in Carole’s doctor recommending her for a clinical trial to receive customized targeted therapy specific to her lung cancer. Trial participants were required to have a specific cancer biomarker and Carole started the screening process for the clinical trial in 2021. She met the criteria, becoming the first Canadian to receive the trial drug. Carole notes, “The Clinical Trials Unit staff were incredible, caring, and always did their best — they were extremely supportive through a difficult experience.” After just six weeks on the trial drug, the cancer had shrunk by approximately 70%.

After three years, Carole is doing very well. She adds, “I don’t believe I’d be here today without the trial drug.” Today, Carole is a lung cancer advocate emphasizing to others, “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer”. She volunteers for the Guardian Angel Benefit for Manitoba Women and Cancer doing what she can to help others facing similarly life-changing cancer diagnoses.

Ask your oncologist if there’s a clinical trial available for you.

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