A cancer patient who was told he had less than 12 months to live is now cancer free thanks to a ground breaking trial at a world renowned Manchester hospital.
Robert Glynn, 51, from Worsley in Greater Manchester, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in August 2020.
He took part in a UK trial run by The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester, with 'astonishing results'.
Mr Glynn said: “I wouldn’t be here today without the trial.
“When I was given the option to take part in research, I jumped at the chance.
“You do anything you can to extend your life.''
Mr Glynn was diagnosed with the disease after suffering severe pain in his shoulder which left him unable to sleep.
The day before his 49th birthday, in August 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic, Mr Glynn was told the devastating news that he had intrahepatic bile duct cancer, which forms in the bile ducts inside the liver.
Only around 1,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with this rare form of the disease every year and just 5% of people live for five years or more after diagnosis.
Also known as biliary tract cancer, there are few treatment options.
Mr Glynn was told his cancer was at an advanced stage and had spread to his adrenal gland.
He was referred to the Christie where experts offered him the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial of immunotherapy.
Mr Glynn was started on an immunotherapy drug which is already approved for use in other cancers, including lung, kidney and oesophageal cancer.
The treatment helps a person’s own immune system fight cancer and was combined with standard chemotherapy.
Following the treatment, Mr Glynn's tumours shrank, meaning he was able to have surgery to remove them in April.
The tumour in his liver went from 12cm to 2.6cm, while his adrenal gland tumour shrank from 7cm to 4.1cm.
Surgeons found only dead tissue which meant the treatment had killed off all the cancer cells.
Since his surgery, Mr Glynn has not needed any more treatment and scans show he is clear of the disease:
"I feel very lucky as I had the cancer for two years and had no idea," he said.
“So getting the all-clear was overwhelming.
“In an odd kind of way, having the diagnosis has turned my life around - when something like this happens you realise life is for living.”
In a bid to live a healthier life, Mr Glynn also changed his diet completely, losing five stone after tipping the scales at 16 stone.
“I realised you can’t just rely on the doctors to help you.
“You need to help yourself too.
“It’s also important to remain positive and not give up.
“It’s never over until it’s over.”
Further studies are now being carried out with more patients with the hope of changing the treatment of biliary tract cancer.
The drug cannot be named due to the experimental nature of the trial.
The clinical trial was run by Professor Juan Valle, consultant oncologist at the Christie and a world-leading expert in this form of the disease.
He said: “Robert has done very well on this combination due to his tumour having a high mutation burden, or a high number of genetic mutations.
“Most patients with this diagnosis do not have as many mutations in their cancer cells so the treatment won’t be as effective, but it does highlight the importance of personalised medicine.
“The results of this research and another larger study are keenly anticipated by colleagues worldwide as it could lead to a change in how we treat patients like Robert in the future.”
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