North Texas

Precision Oncology Could Improve Prostate Cancer Patients' Lives

According to the American cancer society, one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during his lifetime. The standard of care is usually surgery, radiation, or/and chemotherapy. But one researcher believes there should be a new treatment strategy that can improve a patient's quality of life.

It may not seem like much, but to Mickey Nunn, being able to play bass guitar for his wife Teresa is a big miracle. More than 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. The cancer was inoperable, and Nunn had already undergone 42 treatments of radiation. So now he had 17 rounds of chemotherapy.

Nunn said, "Chemo for me was like throwing it on the wall and seeing if it stuck."

Even with all the treatments, his PSA score, or prostate-specific antigen sky-rocketed. A score above four is a risk factor for prostate cancer. Nunn's was 99.

"Only thing that was left was to pray to God for a miracle and He gave me one," Nunn shared.

In Eddy Yang, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Precision Oncology, Professor of Radiation Oncology at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Doctor Yang believes he can treat Mickey's tumor using precision medicine.

"So, precision oncology for us means to gather as much data about a patient as well as their cancer and trying to figure out what's the best treatment for them," said Dr. Yang.

Researchers use a biopsy or blood sample from the patient. Then …

"If we find that a patient's tumor has that particular mutation for which there is a drug against that mutation then we put them on a study using that drug," Dr. Yang explained.

In Nunn's case, it was an ovarian cancer drug that seems to work against his prostate cancer mutation. With this new drug, Nunn has been in remission for over a year.

Nunn said, "It's not just trial and error. This here is made especially for me."

Nunn's PSA score has fallen from 99 to 3.16 after starting the cancer drug Lynparza, normally prescribed for ovarian cancer. He also took pain medication for his back pain, but no longer needs to.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

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