Cynthia Gilbert, Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers is committed to offering groundbreaking research to its patients. In this Research Spotlight, learn how Cynthia’s pancreatic cancer tumor shrank by 70% after starting a clinical trial.

Cynthia Gilbert, retired paralegal and grandmother of six grandsons, is receiving life-saving treatment on a groundbreaking clinical trial right here in Southern Nevada at Comprehensive Cancer Centers (Comprehensive).

During a routine physical in early 2020, Cynthia’s doctor noticed two lymph nodes in her neck were swollen. After a few tests and an ultrasound, her doctors discovered breast cancer. However, after additional testing, her breasts were cleared, and a starker diagnosis was given.

In June 2020, Cynthia was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma at age 63. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 560 Nevadans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Additionally, an estimated 420 Nevadans will die from pancreatic cancer this year.

The most common type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, occurs when exocrine cells in the pancreas grow out of control. Exocrine cells make pancreatic enzymes that are released into the intestines to help digest foods, especially fats. Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas typically has a worse prognosis than the less common endocrine cancer, or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET).

Additionally, pancreatic cancer is usually very difficult to detect early. The pancreas’ location is deep inside the abdomen, making tumors challenging to find or feel. People usually do not have symptoms until the cancer has grown or spread to other parts of the body. As a result, there are no screenings or tests that have been shown to lower the risk of dying from pancreatic cancer.

After receiving the diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, Cynthia faced an uphill battle. The likelihood of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body was high because the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes. She was beginning to lose hope.

However, in August of 2020, a clinical trial became available at Comprehensive for patients with pancreatic cancer. The treatment includes an infusion of Folfirinox with the study’s drug, Irinotecan, typically used for cancer treatment of the colon or rectum. Dr. Brian Vicuna, Cynthia’s oncologist at Comprehensive, deemed Cynthia a candidate for the trial and she began treatment.

After starting the treatment, Cynthia experienced some side effects affecting her energy, but she has since returned to spending time with friends and family, including her new grandson. In fact, her tumors have shrunk more than 70% since starting the clinical trial. Every other week, Cynthia visits Comprehensive for her treatment. As the treatment continues to work miracles, she and Dr. Vicuna have no plans to change course.

Looking to the future, Cynthia says, “It’s either give up or stay on the trial, and giving up is not an option.”

Cynthia’s participation in the life-saving clinical trial will allow future patients to also receive the treatment, potentially saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives across the globe.

 

Comprehensive Cancer Centers has partnered with some of the world’s most recognizable research and cancer-fighting organizations, including The US Oncology Network, UCLA TRIO-US, USC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and leading pharmaceutical companies, to offer groundbreaking research to its patients. The practice participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III clinical research studies each year and has played a role in developing more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies.

 

For more information on the practice’s latest trials, visit www.cccnevada.com or call 702-952-3350.