Experimental Breast-Cancer Drug Gives Sacramento Woman New Hope

DUARTE (CBSLA.com) — A Sacramento woman diagnosed with terminal breast cancer got extraordinary results from an experimental new treatment she received at a Southern California medical center after just six weeks of therapy there.

City of Hope National Medical Center is aptly named.

A remarkable new treatment for breast cancer is emerging at the hospital and is giving one terminally-ill woman exactly what they claim to provide. Hope.

69-year-old Susan Young was told she had run out of options. Seven different types of chemotherapy had failed to stop the spread of her breast cancer to her bones and skin.

“It’s very hard to be told it’s terminal, and you don’t know. It is hard,” Young said.

Before she was placed on hospice, her doctors in Northern California, where she lives with her husband, referred her to City of Hope in Duarte for an experimental treatment. A combination of the P53 cancer vaccine and an antibody drug. The results have been nothing short of remarkable.

“I was amazed. I didn’t think it would ever happen,” Young said. “Luck doesn’t usually hit me, and now it has.”

When Young came to City of Hope, more than half of her body was covered in angry, itchy lesions. Six weeks into treatment, they were gone. There is now no sign of cancer on her skin. And internally, some of her tumors appear to be shrinking, according to her oncologist Dr. Yuan Yuan.

“Internally in the lung area, the lesions are starting to fade,” Yuan said. “I think it’s too premature to call it a cure, but she has had exceptional responses.”

The researcher who developed the vaccine says, combined with the drug called Pembrolizumab, it activated Young’s immune system, causing it to attack her cancer. But Doctor Don Diamond says it’s too soon to tell if it’s added months or years to her life.

“Her quality of life has improved, but time will tell as to the durability. We hope it lasts for years,” Diamond said.

Diamond also hopes Young’s incredible response to the treatment could be the key to a cure.

“What we would like to believe is that the activation of the immune system will be so profound that it could lead to a cure,” Diamond said. “I want to caution that we have no evidence, but there is no reason to believe that it won’t lead to a cure.”

For the first time in years Young is filled with hope, and looking toward her future.

“Maybe I will have another 10 years,” said Young. “That would be great. I can see my grandchildren grow up.”

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