Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans.
The deadly cancer is usually treated with radiation and chemo, but the tumor inevitably comes back.
Now, a new treatment using the patient's tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer.
John and Kendall Suprock's 30th anniversary in Italy was full of romance.
However, just one day after returning home, John lost his ability to read.
Kendall says, “That’s when they told us that you had a brain tumor."
The tumor pressed up against the language center of his brain. Known as a glioblastoma and the deadly cancer has no cure.
"It really was kind of soul crushing when you realize how severe a diagnosis of GBM is," Kendall says.
Doctors removed the golf ball sized tumor, but three years later, it came back.
Now, a new experimental treatment using a patient's own tumor is offering hope.
Doctor Andrew Parsa, at Northwestern Medicine, says, "It's like getting a flu shot. Patients can uh fight their own disease if their immune system is educated in the right way and one of the ways to do that is with a vaccine."
Dr. Parsa says the personalized vaccine works by teaching the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells.
John and his family are optimistic.
John says, “It's going to work. I think it's going to work."
Dr. Parsa hopes the vaccine will help change glioblastoma from a terminal cancer to a chronic condition like diabetes that can be managed with medication.
Right now, a newly diagnosed patient who receives the vaccine, along with chemo and radiation will live an average of 24 months, versus a median survival of 15 months with standard care alone.
TOPIC: Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma
GLIOBLASTOMA: Glioblastomas are highly cancerous tumors that can be found anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. These tumors come from normal functioning brain cells which allow them to easily access areas of brain tissue and include symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Glioblastomas can spread very rapidly and cause increased pressure on the brain. Doctors are still unsure of how glioblastomas are caused. The median survival for adults with aggressive cases of glioblastoma is approximately 14.6 months when treated with radiation therapy. A study conducted in 2009 showed that 10 percent of patients with glioblastoma may live for 5 years or longer. (Source: http://www.abta.org/brain-tumor-information/types-of-tumors/glioblastoma.html)
TREATMENT: The mortality rates for glioblastoma cases are relatively high. Standard treatments for getting rid of a malignant glioblastoma tumor consist of surgical resection, radiotherapy and chemotherapy with temozolomide. If a patient is over 70, less aggressive treatments may be recommended. Recent studies suggest that patients over 60 who have been treated with temozolomide had a higher survival rate than those who only had radiotherapy. (Source: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/283252-treatment)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: There's a new treatment option for glioblastoma that uses the patient's tumor to effectively slow down its progression. Traditional surgery to remove a glioblastoma tumor often times saw the tumors come back a few years later. Doctors are now using an experimental brain vaccine that uses someone's own tumor to trigger an immune system response that kills cancer cells. Results from a new study show that glioblastoma patients who added the personalized vaccine to their treatment show improved signs of survival. Results showed that 50 percent of the patients who took the vaccine lived for two years which is considered promising for a disease with a high mortality rate within the first year of diagnosis. The treatment enrolled people from eight different sites across the nation. (Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-results-show-personalized-brain-tumor-vaccine-helps-patients-live-longer-2014-07-02)