John is a 45 years old Sri Lankan living with his wife and two beautiful daughters. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with oral cancer at the base of his tongue.
Oral cancers belong to a larger group of cancers called head and neck cancers. Head and neck cancers are not in the category of "most common" cancers but are among the most debilitating and deadly. Also, they are difficult to detect and diagnose. As a result, about 95 percent of the time head and neck cancers are advanced when diagnosed.
John was stage 3 when diagnosed. His oncologist explained that his cancer was the most painful of any cancers to treat and his life expectancy was only 3 years from the onset. As there were no other options, John agreed, with fear, to undergo the treatments.
In a sudden twist of events, just before he started treatment his oncologist informed him of the availability of a new therapy that could be a great advantage to him. It took him only a few seconds to decide to join this clinical trial.
The trial involved having fifteen injections to the tumor and neck lymph nodes within three weeks, prior to surgery and followed by standard treatments. The trial drug was an immunomodulator that modifies the immune response against the cancer cells.
Before joining the trial, John was informed about the expected outcomes of the trial and possible side effects. However, John was lucky enough to experience the maximum benefits of the trial.
His tumor mass was remarkably reduced and postoperative investigations displayed a very high immune response against the cancer cells. "Unbelievable" his oncologist replied to him before starting the radiotherapy. Chemotherapy was omitted from his treatment schedule due to the highly positive results of the trial drug.
John successfully completed the radiotherapy treatments and quickly recovered from radiotherapy side effects. John said, "I was really well-taken care during the trial and every trial team member was brilliant."
When he finished his trial treatments he was telephonically followed-up for another three years to check his status. In November 2018 his oncologist informed him that he had successfully completed all his clinical trial visits and declared him a cancer-free person.
That was the best news John and his family had heard in years. Finally, John said, "Clinical trials gave me a second chance and I am glad I did valuable contribution to humanity."
John is a long-term head and neck cancer survivor now in his 5th year of remission thankful to the clinical trials.