Medicine, specifically cancer treatment, is different than it was 10 years ago. The growing use of digital technology has helped build communities and increase access to information, offering cancer patients the tools to become their own advocates.
Over the years, I have attended and participated in a number of conferences and events where I have listened to and been a part of many conversations about cancer treatment. Just a couple weeks ago, I attended the American College of Radiation Oncology to present four posters about results from the MORE study – an investigation I led that looked at factors affecting tolerance and outcomes of 90Y radioactive treatment in patients with metastatic colon cancer (mCRC), specifically when the treatment is delivered right to the site of the liver tumor.
During this treatment process, radioactive microspheres, called SIR-Spheres®, are implanted into the tumors through a procedure often called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy, or SIRT.
At the ASCO-GI Symposium in January, I presented the last of four sets of findings from this multi-institutional U.S. study on behalf of my co-investigators. These compelling results have increased our understanding of SIRT as a treatment option for patients with metastatic colon cancer while highlighting the positive aspects of the safety and effectiveness. The data also allowed us to identify similar findings in the age group of patients 70 and older. Additionally, the data revealed that before undergoing 90Y radioactive treatment, diagnostic tests can help predict success and overall survival in mCRC patients.
The key takeaway is that with the SIRT procedure, patients have an opportunity to live longer and live well. This treatment is not a silver bullet, but it does offer a potential gift of time for patients to spend with loved ones while maintaining a good quality of life.
To stay up to date with the latest in treatment options, search the web or tap into your support networks and advocacy groups for counsel, like the Colon Cancer Alliance. The key is to be well informed by understanding the terminology and knowing what resources to trust. A few key resources that have excellent patient information are Pearlpoint, ASCO, ASTRO, NCI and the American Cancer Society. The yearly ASCO-GI Symposium is a great place to seek out cutting-edge information too.
Whether you’re reading this as a patient or a loved one, I encourage you to be as informed as possible when it comes to treatment options; become a partner with your physician. After all, you are your best advocate.
Want to learn more about metastatic colon cancer? Join me for a web chat on April 2. Learn more and register.
Dr. Andrew Kennedy is the Radiation Oncology Physician-in-Chief at Sarah Cannon Cancer Center. He is an internationally-renowned radiation oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers, as well as cancers of the breast and lung. He is a graduate of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California and completed his residency at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Kennedy has given hundreds of presentations on radiation therapy for the treatment of colorectal and liver cancers worldwide, and has been selected as one of America’s Best Doctors (top 5% of the U.S.) annually since 2009. Click here for Dr. Kennedy’s full biography.