PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Wife, mother, and grandmother Carol Glock always made sure she got her yearly mammograms, which had all been fine. Her first awareness of a problem was at home.
“I leaned over to look at something my husband was reading off his computer screen, and I felt, like this soreness on my left breast,” says Carol. “It was very red, swollen, hard, had this orangish color to it.”
After an ultrasound, the radiologist confirmed the bad news.
“When it was found, it was 9centimeters. I was told it was inflammatory breast cancer. She really gave me little hope for survival at all. It’s extremely aggressive, it grows very rapidly,” Carol continues. “Oh, I was completely shocked. because I’m an exerciser, I’m a nutritionist, I’m a very positive person, all the time. I did everything right in my life. So I said, like, why me? I came home and started cleaning out my closet.”
Her hope returned when she found out about a clinical trial offered locally to women like her with large tumors with some spread and cancer cell surface proteins called HER-2, they’re like an on switch for cell growth.
In the trial, woman would be randomly assigned to get standard treatment with radiation, chemotherapy and a drug to turn off HER-2 standard treatment, plus a study new drug that turns off different proteins inside the cell that act like an on switch or the new drug by itself.
Doctors are looking at whether the new drug can make the tumor shrink down before surgery.
“Let’s see if we can take a drug that has fewer side effects, you can take orally, as opposed to intravenously,” explains Allegheny General Hospital breast cancer specialist Dr. Thomas Julian, “and then also, see if it might prolong the time before the cancer comes back.”
“After one month of being on the neratinib, which was the drug that I took in the clinical trial, and the radiation treatment,” says Carol, “he could not feel a mass in my breast whatsoever. It had shrunk that quickly.”
Carol will be followed for at least 10 years.
“There are a lot of patients who had a very exquisite response and doing well. She had a very good response, especially with the fact that she had inflammatory breast cancer,” says Dr. Julian.
This trial was a middle step to FDA approval. It still has a long road ahead.
“This is why clinical trials are important. It’s how we have the ability to take what is the standard of care, for treatment, and move it up a notch or two,” says Dr. Julian.