STEVE PRICE: PET scans every six months, blood tests monthly, medications twice a day-- my cancer diagnosis interrupted the old rhythm of my life, but it's given me a new one. My name is Steve Price, and I'm a pancreatic-cancer patient.
By the time I got to Dr. Ocean's office, there was already a lot of evidence that I had pancreatic cancer. Stepping into that waiting room and looking around at my fellow patients was a very intimidating experience. And it drove home the gravity of my own situation.
ALLYSON OCEAN: When I first met Steve, he was very sick. He was in a lot of pain. His abdomen was distended. The imaging showed two extremely large 16-centimeter tumors in his liver and another one in his pancreas.
The first step was confirming the type of cancer and then getting him started on chemotherapy right away. In order to do that, he needed a biopsy. So I referred him to interventional radiology.
KYUNGMOUK STEVE LEE: Interventional radiology is an innovative field of medicine in which doctors use imaging guidance to diagnose and treat various forms of diseases. I put a port in Steven Price, and I also did a biopsy on the same day the port is a disc with a silicone bumper that's connected to a vein. It allows the nurse to give chemotherapy at all times.
I also did a liver biopsy using ultrasound-imaging guidance. We got seven biopsy samples. And we were able to give Steve the therapy he needed immediately.
Here at the David H. Koch Center, health-care delivery is increasingly moving towards less-invasive treatments. Interventional radiology is perfectly suited to be at the center of this movement. It allowed Mr. Price to receive chemotherapy right away, even on the same day.
STEVE PRICE: Once I got a definitive diagnosis, there was no way to avoid the reality. It's one thing to know that you have pancreatic cancer. It's another thing to know that you have advanced-metastatic pancreatic cancer. That's a grim experience.
The good news was the chemo worked. My tumors had shrunk dramatically. One of the particular challenges of pancreatic cancer, though, is that you can never really stop treating it. It has a nasty inclination to come back.
During the course of my chemotherapy, as the cancer kept retreating and as the chemo side effects kept accumulating, we had our eye out for other options.
ALLYSON OCEAN: I discussed with Steve various clinical trials for pancreatic cancer. He wanted to participate in a study. The problem was his variant of pancreatic cancer was so unique, he was excluded from almost all of them except for one-- our precision medicine clinical trial.
OLIVIER ELEMENTO: So precision medicine is really changing how we treat cancer patients, especially advanced-cancer patients. When the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine receives a biopsy from interventional radiology, we sequence the DNA of the tissue. That gives us information about the mutations that are driving the cancer in individual patients. And it gives us opportunities to understand what the patient could respond to when it comes to drugs or combinations.
STEVE PRICE: I still remember when I first saw the printout from my precision-medicine report, suddenly that nameless, shapeless enemy of mine snapped into focus. It took a little of the terror out of being a cancer patient.
ALLYSON OCEAN: We had a major breakthrough in Steve's case. The trial results came back and he tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation.
STEVE PRICE: As Alison and I discussed the significance of my BRCA1 mutation, I got very excited. After seven or eight months of chemo, my body had pretty much had as much as it could take. I was able to switch over to a pill-based regimen that specifically targets that BRCA1 mutation.
ALLYSON OCEAN: It's truly amazing that Steve has achieved the response to therapy that he has and now, two years later, is living well. And all of this was because of precision medicine.
STEVE PRICE: I don't know yet whether I'd gotten a pardon from cancer or just a reprieve. But whatever it is, it's more than anyone could reasonably have expected when this journey began. There's a lot about the future. I can't predict. One thing I can predict is I'm never going to have a day without gratitude.
If I could say anything to my care team at New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine--
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Being diagnosed with advanced metastatic pancreatic cancer was a grim experience for Steve Price. But thanks to his doctors at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, state-of-the-art interventional radiology allowed him to receive chemotherapy immediately after biopsy, shrinking his tumors dramatically. Then, a precision medicine clinical trial revealed that Price had a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, normally associated with breast cancer. By examining his unique genetic profile, Price’s medical team was able to determine that a new therapy targeting the mutation could give him his life back.