Dr. Agustin Pimentel is an oncologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. To make an appointment, call 305-243-5302. Click Here For more about the BEACON CRC trial for metastatic colon cancer, click here for the University of Miami’s health news blog.
Bonnie Leopoldo, 59, and her husband John took a celebratory cruise last year to mark her remission from colon cancer after twelve challenging rounds of chemotherapy. But just four months later, her cancer returned and spread to other organs.
“It was nothing short of devastating,” says Bonnie. “I thought about this happening ten years down the road, but this was not part of the plan.”
After a second line of treatment failed, Bonnie learned that her tumor carries a gene mutation known as BRAF that made her cancer difficult to treat. Her oncologist, Dr. Agustin Pimentel, introduced her to a clinical trial available at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center testing a treatment that has been shown to extend life expectancy in melanoma patients with the same genetic mutation.
The BEACON CRC is a phase III clinical trial for patients with metastatic colon cancer who carry the BRAF mutation and have failed a first line of treatment. Several cancer centers across the country, including Sylvester, are currently enrolling patients. “I felt luck to qualify for the trial,” says Bonnie. “It’s my best shot.”
According to Dr. Pimentel, ten to 15 percent of patients with colon cancer carry the BRAF mutation. The BEACON CRC trial is testing a combination of compounds that have been shown to significantly increase response rates and double survival in earlier stages of the study.
At the time the data was analyzed for the previous phase of the trial, more than three-quarters of enrolled patients were still undergoing treatment. “This is unheard of,” said Dr. Pimentel. “These patients are responding. These patients are battling cancer and living longer.”
“I am very hopeful for the possibility of extending my life,” says Bonnie. A mom of three, she is looking forward to her daughter’s wedding in June and would like to spend time with her young grandson. “I believe your attitude can play a big part in the success of the treatments. I feel good about helping myself and also helping the medical community.”
Dr. Pimentel says participation in the BEACON CRC trial is a good opportunity for patients who meet the inclusion criteria. “We’ve already seen preliminary encouraging anti-tumor activity and we’re hoping it will translate to survival for these patients,” says Dr. Pimentel.
FOCUSING ON YOU
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Above content provided by Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center