A Briton who was given a year to live just last year, recovered from a severe and difficult-to-treat form of cancer, and is now completely free of the disease thanks to the trial of a new drug.
Robert Glenn, 51, a welder from Worsley in Greater Manchester, was diagnosed with biliary tract cancer after severe shoulder pain kept him up all night.
Robert Glynn of Manchester was given a year to live after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer but is now healthy thanks to clinical trials at The Christie.
— Christie NHS (@TheChristieNHS) December 30, 2022
Mr Glynn said he “would not be here” without the outcome of the trial being conducted by Christie’s, part of the NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
Despite a series of examinations and tests by his doctor, his cancer was discovered by accident when he developed a gallbladder infection.
The day before his 49th birthday, in August 2020, doctors told Glenn that he had intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (a cancer that forms in the bile ducts inside the liver).
This condition, also known as cholangiocarcinoma, causes the cells lining the bile ducts to multiply faster than they should. The bile ducts are small tubes that connect the liver, gallbladder, and small intestine. It secretes bile into the intestines after eating, which helps digest fats.
Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare form of the disease with few treatment options. Cholangiocarcinomas are often diagnosed based on where the cancer appears in the gallbladder ducts when it is advanced, making successful treatment difficult.
Mr. Glenn was told that the cancer was in an advanced stage and had spread to the adrenal glands. He was referred to Christie’s, where the specialists invited him to take part in clinical trials of immunotherapy.
Prior to the start of the trial, Mr. Glenn’s tumor was analyzed for genetic changes. The result showed that the tumor has a high mutation load (a large number of genetic mutations in the cells), suggesting that it may have a good response to treatment.
And Glenn began using an immunotherapy drug that was already approved for use in other cancers, including cancers of the lung, kidney, and esophagus.
The treatment, which is delivered through an IV and helps a person’s immune system fight cancer, was combined with standard chemotherapy.
The drug cannot be named due to the experimental nature of this bile duct cancer study.
Glenn saw his tumors shrink during treatment. The liver tumor changed from 12 cm to 2.6 cm, and the adrenal tumor decreased from 7 cm to 4.1 cm.
This meant that Glenn underwent surgery in April to remove the tumors. The surgeons found only dead tissue, meaning that the treatment had killed all of the cancer cells.
“When I got the opportunity to participate in the trial, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Glenn. “I will do everything in my power to extend my life. I was very lucky that I had cancer for two years and had no idea “. Oddly enough, the diagnosis turned my life upside down.”
After the operation, Glenn did not require any other treatment, and the scans that he had every three months show that he does not have cancer.
Further studies are underway with more patients in the hope of changing the treatment of bile duct cancer.
In an effort to lead a healthier lifestyle, Glen completely changed his diet and lost a lot of weight.
He said: “I have given up all processed foods, refined sugar, dairy and dairy products, and now eat juice every day and lots of organic fruits and vegetables… I have learned that you cannot just rely on doctors to help you.” You must help yourself too. That’s important too.” Stay positive and don’t give up.
Clinical trials were conducted by Professor Juan Valle, Christie’s Consultant Oncologist, world-renowned expert in cholangiocarcinoma.
“Glenn did very well with this combination because he has a high mutation load in his tumor or because he has a high number of genetic mutations. Most patients with this diagnosis don’t have many mutations in their cancer cells, so it’s not a cure, Valli said. “It’s effective, but highlights the importance of personalized medicine. Colleagues around the world are waiting for the results of this study and another larger study as it may lead to a change in our approach to treating patients like Glenn in the future.”