Immunotherapy drug prolongs survival for advanced kidney cancer patients, offered in WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “My original prognosis I only had 10 months left and I’m going on 4 and a half years,” said Scott Bloomgren of Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Bloomgren says he was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer about 5 years ago. He thought his days were numbered, but says a drug called nivolumab added years to his life.

“It’s given me more time with my wife, my kids, got to meet two of my grand kids that I wouldn’t of so it’s pretty much impacted my life a lot,” said Bloomgren.

Scott travels from Bradford, Pennsylvania to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute every 3 weeks to receive the iv drug treatment.  He says it shrank tumors in his lungs by 70 percent. Dr. Saby George is one of the researchers leading nationwide studies of the immunotherapy called nivolumab or opdivo as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer. He says the results are promising.

“This drug is not a traditional cancer drug this is different in terms of how it works. This new class of drugs works by activating the t cells which go and invade the tumors and they may initially get bigger before they can get smaller,” said Roswell Park Cancer Institute Medical Oncologist Doctor Saby George.

Dr. George says a study found that patients with advanced kidney cancer benefited from continued treatment.

“We still have patients on the phase 2 study, some patients are close to 5 years on the drug which is a lot more than the median survival of a patient,” said Dr. George.

Scott says the side effects from the drug are more manageable than regular chemotherapy. He’s says it’s improved his quality of life, and it’s extended it.

“I got 4 years of life and still going I’m not planning on quitting yet,” said Bloomgren.

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