This year, over 60,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The prognosis for those diagnosed with thyroid cancer is usually pretty good – some have even ventured so far as to call it a “good cancer” because most patients have a good response to treatment and the disease has a five-year survival rate of 98%1. Unfortunately, some patients develop treatment resistant disease and historically there have been few viable treatment options for those whose disease progresses despite treatment.
Today, Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania is presenting research findings during the Plenary Session of the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting that gives hope to these patients. Differentiated thyroid cancer is largely curable through radioactive iodine treatment, however roughly 5-10% of patients develop treatment resistant disease. A pivotal phase III trial, led by Dr. Brose, shows that sorafenib almost doubled progression-free survival over placebo (10.8 months versus 5.8 months) for patients with metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer. This is the first time a study like this has been done, the first time a kinase inhibitor has been assessed in a phase III trial for this indication.
Importantly, this means that patients may have five additional months with fewer hospitalizations and invasive treatments for complications such as airway obstruction. It means five additional months to enjoy life and spend time with loved ones. According to Dr. Brose, “extension of progression free survival is additional time without medical interventions.” This study is clinically important because previous treatment options have not affected survival for this patient population. In fact, this is the first drug in three decades to be shown effective against certain aggressive thyroid cancers.
Dr. Brose is presenting this breakthrough research today at the world’s premier cancer meeting and because of her research, many patients with advanced, treatment-resistant thyroid cancer now have renewed hope. The Conquer Cancer Foundation is thrilled to have supported Dr. Brose’s career when she was an oncology fellow just starting out in the field of clinical cancer research.
In 2000, Dr. Brose received a Young Investigator Award (YIA) from the Conquer Cancer Foundation to pursue her research project “Homozygous Deletion of BRCA1 in Human Cell Lines.” Dr. Brose said “This was the first grant I ever received and it was also the first validation that I may be able to succeed in doing translational research. I received this award during my fellowship, which is when you are trying to figure out if you will be successful in academic medicine. It was a huge boost to my confidence and the funding was also important because it gave me the time to learn how to do research.”
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Conquer Cancer Foundation’s YIA program has launched the careers of hundreds of researchers just like Dr. Brose. Emphasizing the importance of the YIA program, Dr. Brose commented “If we don’t’ fund programs like the YIA, we are going to lose future generations of researchers to other lines of work and we need these young researchers to help us keep the field moving forward. Programs like the YIA are incredibly important to attracting and retaining young physician scientists in the field of academic medicine.”
Dr. Brose is a prime example of someone who is indeed moving the field forward and the Conquer Cancer Foundation is proud to have supported her early in her career. Together, we will build a world free from the fear of cancer.
To support today’s young researchers who will make tomorrow’s breakthrough advances, visit www.conquercancerfoundation.org/donate to support the Young Investigator Award program.