'I Did Cartwheels': The 'Cancer-Melting' Drug Offering Older Leukaemia Patients Hope
A new cancer drug which effectively melts away leukaemia is offering older patients renewed hope.
Half the patients involved in a Melbourne-led clinical drug trial survived beyond 10 months.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) usually has a survival rate of less than five months.
Kaye Oliver, 75, was diagnosed with the cancer on Christmas Eve in 2014. She told 10 News First her “world fell apart”.
Oliver's age meant the prognosis wasn't good; she was told she had less than six months to live. Feeling she had nothing to lose, she signed up for a Monash University and Alfred Hospital drug trial.
Two months later, she was in partial remission.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe it,” she said. “I did cartwheels down the passageway leaving the oncologists.”
Oliver was the first patient in the world to take part in the trial, four years ago. The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Thursday with resounding success.
Regular chemotherapy dosages are usually unsuccessful on older patients, meaning palliative care is often the only option.
But researchers discovered the experimental drug Venetoclax could be combined with a low dose of chemotherapy with remarkable results: a five-fold increase in response rate and a 50 percent survival rate beyond 10 months.
It's the biggest advance in AML treatment in 50 years.
The trial was so successful, the drug has already been approved in the US.
It’s now undergoing the approval process here in Australia, where it could be available in just a few years.
Featured image: 10 News First