Warrnambool oncologist Terri Hayes has described results of a new chemotherapy drug trial as spectacular, with it halving the size of a small cell lung tumour in two months.
The South West Regional Cancer Centre has the only Australian patient participating in the international trial with 23 others worldwide.
Warrnambool patient Nives qualified for the Resilience Study, which is trialing a chemotherapy drug for small cell lung cancer, a less common and very aggressive form of cancer.
She said she didn't hesitate to participate in the trial and only did so because it was available locally at the centre. Had it been available in Melbourne she would have refused, due to the distance and effort required to get to appointments.
"Small cell (lung cancer) is difficult to treat and from research I'd done it has as little as two per cent survival (rate)," Nives said.
"Not many people can talk about surviving it which is why the surveillance and constant scans (through the trial) are vital because it's sneaky."
Dr Hayes said the ongoing trial, which Nives joined in February, had showed promising results in a very short time span.
"Within the first six week scan, the tumour was half the size," Dr Hayes said. "It's almost made it invisible which is why I've said it's in remission. It's a positive. In this individual case it's responded well."
Dr Hayes said while they "didn't know what was around the corner," she was really pleased with the results. "It's been spectacular. It's amazing. It's breaking a lot of ground, absolutely."
She said the regional cancer centre had put Warrnambool on the map to be considered for future trials that it previously may not have.
"We've been able to attract more interest from overseas researchers with their new drugs," Dr Hayes said.
"Historically they'll approach bigger centres like Peter Mac and the Royal Melbourne but we've had a couple of experiences and we've had a lot patients who have been keen to be involved, so we're now on their radar. Warrnambool has been a success so they're offering us more and more different studies."
Nives described herself as a pioneer and is grateful to Dr Hayes for being her advocate, the trial nurses who were crucial to its delivery and the centre's staff.
She uses the Peter's Project car, driven by centre volunteers, to attend her weekly appointments, scans every six weeks and fortnightly treatment.
While the results sound good, Nives said the journey of a cancer patient was a rollercoaster and she didn't want to get her hopes up. "I'm too afraid to get excited because I know the nature of it," Nives said.
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