Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Doctor with controversial treatment for his own brain cancer – still alive

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On average, it takes six months for aggressive brain cancer to return after surgery. An MRI scan of the brain can reveal signs that the tumor has returned after surgery. Illustration photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

Of NTB | 14.05.2024 17:49:38

Science and technology: Professor and skin cancer doctor Richard Scolyer (57) was diagnosed with glioblastoma at the beginning of June last year after an epileptic seizure. The aggressive brain cancer has a very low survival rate.

Australian Scolyer and colleague Georgina Long are recognized globally for their work in the treatment of melanoma (mole cancer), writes ABC News.

When Scolyer got brain cancer, he chose to be the first in the world to try out a new type of treatment, based on the methods the two have worked with against mole cancer.

Professor Long underwent a 12-day, unique immunotherapy tailored to Scolyer’s brain tumour, before as much of the tumor as possible was surgically removed. He then underwent radiation therapy, and has since been on a combination of immunotherapy and a personalized vaccine.

On average, it takes six months for this type of cancer to return after surgery. On Tuesday, Scolyer posted a message on Instagramafter MRI scanning of the brain over ten months after the surgery.

– I found out yesterday that there are still no signs that it (the cancer) has returned. I couldn’t be happier, he writes.

Scolyer and Professor Long have recently been honored in their home country as “Australians of the Year 2024” for their work in the treatment of mole cancer, on which the brain cancer treatment was based.

Now they face new challenges: Professor Long states that a scientific article on Scolyer’s treatment regime is under peer review.

– As a researcher and clinician, there is an absolute need to ensure that you do things correctly and share that information in a peer-reviewed and standardized way, she says.

She says they want to change the current standard treatment for cancer, which is surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

– But to change that, we have to show that this actually works for a larger number of people, she says.

Without estimating when the work might start, she says they hope to start clinical trials of customized treatment for aggressive brain cancer, in the wake of the “fantastic” results for Richard Scolyer.

Scolyer himself says he in no way considers himself cured and that he has accepted that the cancer will most likely return at some point. Until then, the plan is to live as best he can, with the treatment and the side effects it gives after all.

– I can run and do the things I love to do and spend time with my family, he says.

– I try to enjoy life, as I would encourage all people to do: make the most of your life. You never know what’s waiting around the corner.

Scolyer says it has been scary to be a “guinea pig” for the new method, when it is actually recommended to operate on a brain tumor as soon as possible. Medical and scientific authorities were initially skeptical of a completely new approach to cancer, but gave the go-ahead.

– The world can look at it, can discuss it, can criticize it, can love parts of it, says Long about the article that has been written.

(© NTB)

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