Clinical Trials and Leiomyosarcoma
Current treatments for the cancer known as Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) put an emphasis on surgical excision, ablation, and chemo and radiation therapies. Essentially, if the tumor can be removed it will be, and if there is the risk of residual cancer cells in the area, this can be addressed with chemo and/or radio therapy. Additionally, variations of LMS that have gone systemic (meaning the tumor has metastasized to another area of tissue or the body) will be treated with more aggressive chemo and radio therapies.
There are also many alternative treatments at work, and someone with LMS is empowered by looking at the various methods by which tumors are being contained or eliminated apart from standard surgery or even ablation. While we are going to look at the issue of clinical trials a bit later in this article, we will first look at the less well-known approaches that are consistently being tested and enhanced.
Remember that a patient with LMS will have their condition staged, and then treatment is designed around their specific condition. The treatments available are going to vary according to the stage of the tumor, the tissue or organ in which it appears, and the health of the individual.
Even though good prognoses have been gained through the traditional treatments currently available, there has been a lot of promise in many clinical trials. The one glitch with clinical trials is that they do demand a lot of time. They happen in phases and each phase requires review and approval by the FDA. In general, it is, “Estimated to take 12 years and millions of dollars to go through these steps,” (LMSDR.org, 2015) and that means it really pays to keep up to date with the latest trials and their various stages.
Any patient with LMS is probably going to discuss chemotherapy with their medical team. This is a method of ensuring that an area is cancer free or to combat the growth of tumors once the disease has spread. However, there are a lot of pros and cons for the use of chemotherapy and this has led to some clinical trials.
One of the most interesting details relating to chemotherapy clinical trials is the fact that certain types of sarcomas don’t react to conventional cytotoxic therapies, and that many clinical trials are focused on chemo treatment of non-uterine leiomyosarcomas. In other words, there are active trials of anti-cancer agents (in various phases) that are meant to improve chemotherapy options and outcomes.
The most common trials involving chemotherapy are those using “targeted” chemotherapies, which work as vascular disrupters, inhibit molecular pathways, and angiogenesis processes; cytotoxic chemotherapies, which kills or interrupts fast growing cancer cells; and immunotherapies that rely on vaccines or gene therapies.
There is also emphasis on radiology, as this has historically been a consistent method of ablative treatment after surgery. Current clinical trials look at the use of interventional radiology such as ultrasound devices, cryoablation (freezing), and a “cyberknife” technology. Naturally, initial successes with alternative treatments will trigger further clinical studies in areas such as those in chemoembolization, hyperthermia, and even diet. The use of RFA, or radio frequency ablation, is developing too, and yet there is still a long way to go.
As indicated, it can take years for clinical trials to reach the stages at which they can be made available to patients. This, however, does not mean that a patient has to wait for news. There are many studies recruiting participants willing to put themselves in the hands of experts hoping to improve current remedies. The U.S. government website, ClinicalTrials.gov, is a good resource for patients eager to see the latest studies and to find any programs in which they might participate or volunteer. Search for studies using the term “Leiomyosarcoma” and all of the approved programs are listed in the results.
LMSDR.org. Leiomyosarcoma Direct Research Foundation. 2015. http://www.lmsdr.org/trials.php