Super Patient: Peter Fortenbaugh Faces the Uncertainty of Pioneering Melanoma Treatment


In spring of 2014, Peter Fortenbaugh noticed what appeared to be a tick that had bitten his lower calf. “It turned out not to be a tick, but it didn’t really go away,” he says.

The spot began to grow and bulge, and in October, Peter showed it to his primary care doctor, who referred him to a dermatologist to remove it. At the time, Peter recalls, it did not occur to him that the growth could be serious.

“I was actually very concerned about skin cancer because I spent a lot of time out in the sun sailing,” Peter says. “I put on a tremendous amount of sunscreen and protection, but never on my legs…I never connected the dots.”

However, a biopsy of the growth came back positive for melanoma. Peter, who lives in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and three children, immediately reached out to several doctors in the San Francisco Bay Area, and all had the same advice: “Take it out, take a biopsy.” Continue reading…


Immunotherapy Drug Gives Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Patients Extra Four Months of Life

Excerpt:

“Patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer survive four months longer with fewer side effects on an immunotherapy drug called atezolizumab compared to chemotherapy, according to a phase 3 clinical trial published in The Lancet.

“The trial enrolled 1225 advanced non-small-cell lung cancer patients who have no more treatment options, but this study used an early analysis of the first 850 patients from the trial. Half of the group were given atezolizumab and the other half were given docetaxel chemotherapy, which is the standard treatment for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

“Patients given atezolizumab – a drug that blocks the programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein – survived for an average of 13.8 months, compared with 9.6 months for those on chemotherapy.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Study Findings Show Role for Pembrolizumab and Durvalumab in GBM Treatment, Expert Says

Excerpt:

“Based on encouraging efficacy signals and safety data from separate trials exploring the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and the PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab (MEDI4736), there is a role for checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Data from the studies were reported by David Reardon, MD, at the 21st Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO) Annual Scientific Meeting.

“Reardon said that these results mark important firsts in the field: ‘There has been a lot of anticipation regarding the role of checkpoint inhibitors for glioblastoma and whether we’ll see results in any way similar to the exciting results that have been observed in other cancer indications with this new class of cancer therapeutics.’ ”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Durvalumab Demonstrates Durable Responses in Recurrent GBM

Excerpt:

“Findings from a recent phase II study showed the PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab generated durable responses in bevacizumab-naïve patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Findings of the study were presented at the 2016 Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting.

“In a 30-patient cohort, the 6-month progression-free survival (PFS) rate was 20.0% (6 patients; 90% CI, 9.7-33.0). The median PFS was 13.9 weeks (95% CI, 8.1-24.0). Of these 6 patients, 3 had wild-type IDH1 status and 3 had mutated IDH1.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Immunotherapy, MEK Inhibitor Combo Effective for BRAF Wild-Type Melanoma

Excerpt:

“The combination of atezolizumab (Tecentriq) and cobimetinib (Cotellic) may lead to a higher overall response (ORR) and a longer progression-free survival (PFS) than either agent alone in patients with metastatic melanoma, according to findings presented at the 2016 Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) Annual Meeting.

“The findings were part of a phase Ib dose-escalation and dose-expansion study, which looked at the PD-L1 inhibitor and MEK inhibitor together in advanced solid tumors. Data on a cohort of 22 patients with ocular melanoma (n = 2) and non-ocular melanoma (n = 20) was presented at the meeting. Among patients in the non-ocular cohort, the ORR was 45% and the disease-control rate (complete response, partial response, and stable disease) was 75%. Median PFS was 12 months (95% CI, 2.8-16.7).”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Atezolizumab Combos Highly Effective for Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“The addition of the PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq) to the MEK inhibitor cobimetinib (Cotellic) and the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib (Zelboraf) induced a high response rate for patients with BRAF-mutant unresectable melanoma, according to findings from a phase Ib study presented at the 2016 Society for Melanoma Research Annual Meeting.

“At the data cutoff of June 15, 2016, 30 patients had received ≥1 dose of atezolizumab. The response rate with the triplet was 83%, which included 3 complete responses (10%) and 21 partial responses. Overall, 29 of the 30 patients were evaluable for response, with just 1 patient experiencing primary progressive disease. At the time of the analysis, median duration of response and progression-free survival were not yet reached.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


FDA Approves Atezolizumab for Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“The FDA has approved atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for the treatment of patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have progressed after a platinum-containing regimen and an FDA-approved targeted therapy for those patients harboring EGFR or ALK abnormalities.

“The approval is based on multiple clinical trials, the largest being the phase III OAK trial, which was presented at the 2016 ESMO Congress. In the study, atezolizumab reduced the risk of death by 26% compared with docetaxel in patients with advanced NSCLC following the failure of platinum-based chemotherapy. The median overall survival (OS) was improved by 4.2 months with the PD-L1 inhibitor versus chemotherapy. The survival benefit with atezolizumab was observed regardless of PD-L1 status or histology.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Lifeline service.


Atezolizumab: First PD-L1 Inhibitor for Second-Line NSCLC

Excerpt:

“A slightly different immunotherapy has shown benefit in the second-line treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“New data are the first to show that the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) atezolizumab (Tecentriq, Genentech/Roche) outperforms chemotherapy in this setting. Hence, it looks set to soon join the two PD inhibitors nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck & Co) that are already approved for second-line use in NSCLC.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Lifeline service.


Significant Survival Gains with Atezolizumab vs Docetaxel for Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“The first phase III study of PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab in previously-treated non-small-cell lung cancer has seen significant improvements in survival compared to standard chemotherapy, researchers reported at the ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen.

“PD-L1 inhibitors are of a class of cancer immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors, and work by inhibiting one of the mechanisms of resistance developed by cancer cells in order to evade the immune system.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Lifeline service.