Health: Promising Treatments For Advanced Thyroid Cancer

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–New hope for patients with a deadly cancer.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on some promising new research.

The scars are barely visible now for 33-year-old Tara Sweiger, who has a rare form of thyroid cancer that has spread.  When surgery and traditional treatments failed, doctors said there was nothing left.

“They put me in a room and told me.  And then I started balling and left the hospital thinking my life was over.  I mean I was like 28-years-old.  So it was devastating,” said Tara.

Her only hope was an experimental treatment being tested by Dr. Marcia Brose at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.

Dr. Brose is doing research on a group of drugs called kinase inhibitors, that are already approved to treat other cancers.

In three months the black hole shows the tumor has disappeared.  Graphic evidence the drugs are working.

“One mechanism is that they attack the blood vessels that feed the tumor, and the second way is that they could actually attack the tumor cells themselves,” said Dr. Brose.

Tumor cells in Tara’s neck are gone now.  It’s the first time in decades there’s been hope for people with advanced thyroid cancer.

“To be in a position where you actually can take a disease that has no treatments and then suddenly in a very short time come up with several is extraordinarily exciting,” said Dr. Brose.

“I know I’m going to live a longer life because of her,” said Tara.

With her new lease on life, Tara is getting married later this month.

“I hope that people look at me and think oh hey there’s a young person living with cancer and dealing with it,” said Tara.

There are several medications being tested at Penn that target genetic mutations linked to advance thyroid cancer.  They are looking for study participants.

For more information call Penn Medicine at 1-800-789-PENN or go to their website at http://www.penncancer.org/

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