BREWER - 1,300 Mainers will develop breast cancer this year alone, and of those cases, 150 to 200 will die of the disease. But there's more than a dozen clinical trials taking place right here in Eastern Maine, to improve care and lower cancer rates. In part 1 of our series on advancements in Maine medicine Kristin Hosfelt shows us one of them.
Spring White was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer about a year ago. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy. Now, she's taking part in a clinical trial at the Lafayette Cancer Center in Brewer.
The trial is a medicine called Everolimus, an immune suppressant that's not a chemotherapy drug. Dr. Thomas Openshaw says 75% of breast cancers are what they call "estrogen receptor positive", in other words the cancer responds to hormonal treatments. But over time, the cancer can become resistant.
The pill is taken in conjunction with chemotherapy, and the trial takes a year to complete. Though it's too early to see results of the trial, doctors say it's the next step in creating more sepcific treatments. And the hope is that eventually chemotherapy will be obsolete.