Saving Fran: First patient to remove the cloak from glioblastoma

Health Watch

CLEVELAND, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—This year alone, 13,000 Americans will be told they have glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. Most are given less than six months to live. But now a new combo-treatment is giving GBM patients a chance at living longer.

“My hand, my finger, two fingers, had gotten numb. I thought it was carpal tunnel,” Fran Noonan recalled.

If only it was something so simple … Fran had glioblastoma. She had surgery, followed by chemo and radiation. Seventeen months later—the tumor came back. Lauren found this Facebook group, and on it, news of a new clinical trial.

“Tumors have sort of the ability to create this cloak of invisibility, if you will, by hiding themselves from the immune system,” illustrated Andrew E. Sloan, MD, MBA, FACS, professor & vice chairman, department of neurosurgery, Peter D. Cristal chair of neurosurgical oncology, director of the brain tumor & neuro-oncology center and center of excellence for translational neuro-oncology, and distinguished surgeon & senior staff neurosurgeon at University Hospitals-Cleveland Medical Center & Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH.

Dr. Sloan gave Fran immunotherapy, a checkpoint inhibitor called Keytruda, to help Fran’s immune system track down the cancer cells. Then, using an MRI guided laser called LITT, heated the tumor—destroying the cancer cells.

“You can not only damage the tumor, but also erode that cloak of invisibility,” explained Dr. Sloan.

That’s followed up every 21 days for two years with a transfusion of Keytruda. Nine months after the LITT procedure, Fran is feeling and looking good!

“There’s no tumor, no cancer cells. My blood work looks great,” Fran stated.

“We want people to know that you don’t stop looking. Don’t settle for the statistics,” shared Fran’s daughter, Lauren Brown.

Fran was the first person in the world to receive Keytruda first via infusion, then the LITT, laser interstitial therapy, followed by more infusions after surgery. Prior to her treatment, patients only received immunotherapy after surgery. Keytruda is experimental in this use; the Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for this purpose.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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