Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

UK meso survivor Debbie Brewer featured in Plymouth paper as story of hope

31 Dec 2009 by under News, People

debbie front page herald1 UK meso survivor Debbie Brewer featured in Plymouth paper as story of hopeIt has been a difficult year for many in the family. Many have lost loved ones, or are facing a scary diagnosis. But 2009 also held a lot of good news. To illustrate that, I’d like to share a news article about our great friend in the UK, Debbie Brewer. Just after Christmas, Debbie was featured on the front page of The Herald, a newspaper that covers the Plymouth area. The paper describes Plymouth as a “hotspot for asbestos-related deaths.”

In the feature, Debbie talks about how she moved from what was presented to her as a death sentence to her new outlook of happiness, hope and survival. Debbie was diagnosed in November 2006, at which time she thought she might be seeing her last Christmas. Doctors estimated she had only six to nine months to live.

As most of you know, Debbie refused to accept the prognosis that she had only months to live, instead actively seeking alternative medical treatments that might take a fresh look at her cancer and provide her with new options. Primarily, she found Prof. Thomas Vogl at the University Clinic in Frankfurt, Germany, who administers a therapy called . In this therapy, chemotherapy drugs are introduced directly to the tumor area through a catheter into the lung.

Because the treatment is still in clinical trial stages, Debbie had to travel to Germany for each treatment, not available in the UK, and paid for travel expenses and medical care from her own pocket. However, results were amazing, and Debbie’s tumor shrunk by more than 80 percent, putting her in full remission.

Despite a recent setback, when a September check-up showed cancer in her lymph node had increased in size (the tumor in her lung remains stable), she is optimistic. She lobbies energetically for mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, and also to bring chemoembolization to the UK so that more people might try this new therapy that has shown so much success in her case.

The paper quotes Debbie as saying, “Christmas is the time of year I celebrate being here. ”

We love you, Debbie, and we are SO glad to celebrate another Christmas with you, and we look forward to spending 2010 with you!

Read the full article.


A Q&A with Dr. Vogl about mesothelioma trial

16 Jan 2009 by under News, People, Research/Treatment

vogl portait 150x150 A Q&A with Dr. Vogl about mesothelioma trialI know a lot of people who follow this blog are excited about the wonderful results our friend Debbie Brewer has experienced as a result of her participation in a chemoembolization trial in , with her tumor shrinking 53 percent, and now essentially “dead.” The trial is spearheaded by Dr. Thomas J. Vogl, who is head of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at J.W. Goethe University Hospital at Frankfurt University. He has developed the clinical trial to use chemoembolization to treat .

Because there is so much interest in this clinical trial, even though it is currently only available in Germany, I contacted Dr. Vogl to see if he could provide a little more information about the program.

Q: Explain the basic procedure of chemoembolization / locoregional therapy in the treatment of cancer. How does it work?

A: The basic principle of chemoembolization/locoregional therapy is to achieve a transarterial approach to the tumorous lesion. In the treatment of mesothelioma we have to find the direct supply to the cancer. Then the chemoembolization material can be selectively inserted directly to the lesion. A concentration of cytotoxic drugs of up to 20 times higher can be achieved compared to systemic chemotherapy with reduced adverse events. By cutting off the vascular supply, chemotherapy can be retained in the affected region for several weeks.

Q: How did you learn that this treatment is effective for mesothelioma?

A: During treatment of patients with primary and secondary lung cancer we learned that locoregional therapies are effective for the treatment of mesothelioma.

Q: When did this clinical trial begin? (or how long has it been going on?)

A: The clinical trial started three years ago and will be continued for the next two years.

Q: What are the goals of the clinical trial for this treatment?

A: The goals of the clinical trial are to improve local tumor control, to reduce clinical symptoms like breathing problems and pain, and to increase survival.

Q: How many people with mesothelioma are you currently treating in this clinical trial?

A: Currently we treat 300 to 400 patients with primary and secondary lung cancer per year, and we treat about 20 patients with mesotheliomas.

Q: What are the general / overall results you are seeing in the trials?

A: Clinical symptoms and clinical status of the patients have improved. Local tumor control has improved as well.

Q: What is involved in evaluating a person to see if they are a good candidate for this type of treatment? (What is a good candidate?)

A: Normally we need the following material from the patient before treatment: histology of the cancer, therapy protocols so far obtained, images showing the extension of the tumor. A patient with a localized pleuromesothelioma in one half of the chest is a good candidate.

Q: Explain the procedure for someone receiving this treatment – what happens during a typical treatment visit? How long does it take?

A: After local anesthesia, the femoral vein, which is located in the inguinal region, is punctured. Then a small femoral sheath is usually inserted in the vein through which different catheters can be inserted. After displaying the caval vein, a catheter is pushed forward into the tumor feeding vessels after trespassing the pulmonary arteries. For preventing pain analgetic drugs are administered. Then the chemoembolization as well as the embolizing material are applied. Towards the end of the procedure, the catheters and the sheath system are removed and a compression bandage is applied in order to prevent complications in the inguinal region such as hematoma. After surveillance of 6 to 24 hours, in which complications might be detected and treated, the patient will be discharged. Up to 24 hours after the procedure a CT scan is performed in order to evaluate response to treatment or complications.

Q: How often / frequently does a person receive treatment?

A: The patient normally receives the treatment three up to four times in a 1-month interval.

Q: What are typical side effects of treatment?

A: The typical side effects of the treatment are very low. Normally the patient suffers from fatigue. Nausea and an increasing shortness of breathing are also rarely observed.

Q: How would someone apply to participate in this clinical trial? (Is it still open to receive new patients?)

A: If you send me material (medical reports, MR images, CT scans) I can check it and provide a treatment plan thereafter.

If you are interested in learning more about chemoembolization, or being evaluated for possible inclusion in the clinical trial, you can contact Dr. Vogl here:

Prof. Dr. Th. J. Vogl
Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
University Hospital
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7
D-60596 Frankfurt

Email: T.Vogl@em.uni-frankfurt.de
Contact telephone number: 0049-69-6301-7277