30 Oct Clinical Trials Offer Ovarian Cancer Treatment Options: With Dr. William Bradley
In March of 2016, Pam Kraiss, then age 64, suddenly looked nine months pregnant. Alarmed by significant abdominal swelling, the retired English teacher — who faithfully saw her gynecologist for annual exams — visited a hospital near her home. A CT scan revealed a tumor on one ovary and additional tumors throughout her abdomen.
An oncologist at her local hospital referred Pam to the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital. “He told me Froedtert Hospital has fantastic cancer care with a lot of options,” Pam said.
The next day, gynecologic oncologist William Bradley, MD, welcomed Pam, her husband, Bill, and their family to Pam’s appointment at the Clinical Cancer Center.
“Bill and I were in shock, and we wanted our family members to hear what Dr. Bradley had to say,” Pam said. “He was sympathetic but also really clear and honest.” Dr. Bradley diagnosed Pam with stage IIIC ovarian cancer, an advanced stage, and recommended neoadjuvant treatment, during which chemotherapy works to shrink tumors before they are surgically removed.
Dr. Bradley explained that Pam was a candidate for a Phase I clinical trial of a new chemotherapy drug known as GEN-1. If she chose to take part, Pam would receive GEN-1 in addition to standard ovarian cancer treatment. Pam weighed her options and decided to participate in the drug trial. Dr. Bradley performed a minimally invasive procedure to place a port in Pam’s abdomen through which she would receive GEN-1. She and Bill drove 90 minutes to Froedtert Hospital and back to their home in Mount Pleasant for once-a-week treatments, but Pam said it was worth it to get thorough, cutting-edge treatment.
After Pam’s first eight treatments, Dr. Bradley performed surgery to remove the tumors and organs affected by them, including her uterus, ovaries and appendix. He was pleased that the chemotherapy shrank the tumors considerably. Pam’s chemotherapy treatment resumed about a month after surgery.
Pam and Bill also met with certified genetic counselor Morgan depas, MS, CGC, to consider the genetic components of Pam’s disease. Depas walked them through genetic testing and explained the results when blood tests revealed Pam carried the BRCA2 gene mutation, which elevates her risk for ovarian and breast cancers. Family members were then tested. They had not inherited the genetic link. Because Pam’s BRCA2 status increases her risk of breast cancer, she now receives breast cancer screening twice a year and may consider a preventive mastectomy in the future.
For now, Pam is focused on beating her cancer and living well. Ovarian cancers often return, so Dr. Bradley and his team monitor her closely. She is currently participating in another drug trial, a Phase III study of a PARP inhibitor, a medicine given after chemotherapy with the goal of holding off an ovarian cancer recurrence.
“Anyone with a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer should get a second opinion through an academic medical center,” Dr. Bradley said. “Because our Cancer Network is part of the academic medical center at Froedtert Hospital, we offer innovative treatments like the early phase trials in which Pam participated. When your cancer team involves specialists who help develop state-of-the-art clinical trials and offer specialized management for your disease, the likelihood of a good outcome rises,” he said.