When I wrote about two weeks ago, the only thing I knew for certain is that chemotherapy is not going to be sufficient to control cancer in my case. Prostate cancer is still being found in my neck, chest, abdomen, and pelvis with a few new areas of disease noted as well. Aggressive disease does not benefit from a passive response, so we need to figure out what to do next.
In one of those “things that make you go hmmm” moments, I was able to meet my medical oncologist from MD Anderson in Houston (Dr. Christopher Logothetis) for dinner the other night in Cincinnati. He is a highly sought-after speaker on genitourinary cancers (what my nurse practitioner colleague Jill calls “cancer of the boy parts”) who spoke at our second annual “ASCO Direct Best of Oncology Highlights Conference” on Saturday morning, October 1st.
Dinner was a golden opportunity to discuss some details of my case and collect his initial thoughts on what to do next. It was very productive and in fact, my radiologic oncologist here in Cincinnati (i.e., Dr. Bill Barrett) is working on getting a copy of the disc from my most recent PSMA PET scan to MD Anderson so they can do a side-by-side comparison with the same scan I had done at MD Anderson in April. That disc will likely be sent to Houston as early as today.
Although that dinner meeting was planned, what happened on Saturday morning wasn’t. My local medical oncologist (i.e., Dr. Manish Bhandari) was also at the same conference and these two men were able to meet for the first time and discuss my case directly. Although it is quite the set of coincidences that led to this impromptu meeting, I am so fortunate because Drs. Bhandari and Logothetis are already collaborating on what might be coming next.
But wait, not so fast! It appears that I am going to need some biopsies of the tissue in the affected areas, which will be a bit more invasive and add some time to my next stay in Houston. This will give the docs a “molecular profile” that will tell them whether I am a potential candidate for Phase II clinical trials involving the use of a (wait for it…) PSMA-targeting bispecific antibody. This is a form of immunotherapy that has shown to be effective at inducing antitumor responses against blood-based cancers. The hope is that this type of therapy will also prove to be effective against prostate cancer.
What I do know is this. The last thing Dr. Logothetis did before he went down the escalator on his way back to Houston was to put his hand on my shoulder and say “don’t worry – we are going to take care of this.” I don’t know what the future holds but I do know two things: (1) I am going to learn a lot more about Houston and (2) there is no substitute for hope when fighting cancer.
Until next time,