GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) May is National Cancer Research Month.
According to the National Institute of Health there are more than 300,000 clinical research studies going on around the world.
These trials use volunteer patients to see if new treatments are safe, more effective and can potentially save lives.
Through clinical trials Aurora BayCare Medical Center is taking pro-active measures to help make breakthroughs in cancer research.
Toby Rabas is having a good check-up with medical oncologist Dr. Umang Gautam at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. He’s been cancer free for 5 and a half years, “I am back to everything as it was before,” said Toby Rabas, cancer survivor.
Toby was diagnosed with stage three melanoma in 2013, “With stage three disease we generally say that any or all survival is about 50 percent,” said Umang Gautam, MD, Medical Oncologist, Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
Toby was scared, “It was life altering, I have three young boys my wife was pregnant at the time.”
The cancer was removed. Then Dr. Gautam suggested that Toby become part of an oncology clinical research trial, “First of all he gets at least the standard of care but also he could potentially get a better treatment,” explained Dr. Gautam.
Toby joined because of his family, “I felt like I could get potentially the better drug,” said Toby, “I think a lot of it had to do with, I mean, I had young kids.”
Just in oncology, Aurora BayCare is currently involved in 50 clinical trials, “The clinical trials allow us to really look at new treatments and see if they are any better than what is the current standard of care,” explained Dr. Gautam.
Currently, the standard of care for stage three melanoma is Interferon Alfa-2B, “The outcome was not very good, 4% improvement survival in 10 years, we can certainly improve on that,” explained Dr. Gautam.
Toby’s in the phase three ECOG 1609 trial, “It was looking at the standard of care high dose interferon use of this immune check point inhibitor on ipilimumab in two different doses, low dose as well as high dose,” explained Dr. Gautam.
Toby received the standard treatment of care and not the experimental immunotherapy drug. But his participation is very important, “By him participating in this trial we are insuring that the big jigsaw puzzle that we have the question that is ipilimumab better than interferon is answered for a future generation,” explained Dr. Gautam.
Toby was glad he participated even though he didn’t receive experimental immunotherapy drug, “It was for the future, not only my kids but other peoples’ kids,” said Toby.
“Clinical trials are the life blood of good medicine,” said Dr. Gautam.
And remaining cancer free means more time with his family, “Just a normal life now again,” said Toby.