New cancer treatment helping patients live

Posted at 6:08 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 18:08:12-05

A new cancer treatment is helping patients manage their disease, instead of blasting them with chemotherapy.

It's called Adaptive Therapy and Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has trials underway. It's allowing some patients to keep cancer at bay -- without taking daily medicine.

“My wife and I like to cruise and we can go, I mean there’s nothing to hold us back," Dean Spath said.  That includes the prostate cancer Dean Spath has been battling since 2001. He's now part of a study that only requires him to take the cancer-fighting medicine Zytiga when his PSA levels spike.

“Since I’ve been on the drug, I’ve lost a couple friends that were diagnosed after me, with prostate cancer, and since I’ve been on it, I feel very lucky," Spath said.

That's been nearly a year. Research at Moffitt Cancer Center aims to balance drug-resistant cells and chemo-sensitive cells.

“What we’re doing here is if they have a good response, we will ask the patient to stop taking this medication," Dr. Jingsong Zhang, a genitourinary oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, said.

Doctors studying this said high dose treatments aren't likely to control tumors long-term, because they can actually help drug-resistant cells to thrive. In this study, patients like Spath will only take this cancer-fighting drug when he has to, without regularity. In a sense, it's keeping the disease guessing.

 “We try to see whether if we use this schedule we can maintain their cancer cells response to the treatment," Dr. Zhang said.

For Spath, that means living with few side effects. But remember, this is still the beginning of the trial.

“If half the people can have the success I have, it’s great,” Spath said.

Spath and his wife are looking forward to their next cruise.