Diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer, Dr. Stephen Bigelsen thought he only had a few months left to live. Four and a half years later, he is living life with no evidence of cancer and is working hard to ensure that he is not one of the only people who gets to overcome Pancreatic Cancer. Here is his advice for anyone diagnosed with terminal illness where conventional treatment has little chance of working on the importance of clinical trials and combining conventional with experimental treatment.
A key message of Steve’s story: If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness where conventional treatment has no real evidence of extending life beyond a short period of time-consider a clinical trial or combining experimental treatment with conventional treatment immediately. Do not wait until conventional treatment fails, because by then it may be too late to save your life. In about a third of patients with Pancreatic Cancer, tumor marker numbers will go down with traditional chemotherapy. However, within a year, most people become resistant to the chemotherapy, and it will stop working. If you wait until that happens it may be too late for experimental treatment or clinical trials to succeed in prolonging life.
I am a physician specializing in Allergy and Asthma, who in July 2016 was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. I had tumors in the pancreas head and the tail with scattered peritoneal metastases and a CA19-9 of 11,575 U/ml. Working with physicians from Weill-Cornell Medicine and Johns Hopkins Medicine, I began treatment with chemo, with adjunctive therapies of IV Paricalcitol (an analog of Vitamin D) and hydroxychloroquine (a generic malaria drug). Both paricalcitol and hydroxychloroquine are in clinical trials separately, but not combined. Both adjunct therapies are relatively safe, inexpensive and may be prescribed by any willing oncologist as they are already on the market for other conditions. In less than one year, I realized a complete response. My latest CA19-9 is 16 U/ml and there continues to be no evidence of active disease on my most recent CT scan. – Dr Stephen Bigelsen
Learn more about the specifics of Steve’s treatment and the use of repurposed medications which are medications that are already on the market for other conditions here:
Presenter at the Innovating with Existing Drugs and Nutraceuticals Conference,
Emory School of Medicine’s Center for Affordable Medical Innovation (CAMI)
by invitation of ESM Dean Vikas Sukhatme M.D., 2019
Press articles/ Videos on Steve’s Journey
Evidence-based complementary treatment of pancreatic cancer: a review of adjunct therapies including paricalcitol, hydroxychloroquine, intravenous vitamin C, statins, metformin, curcumin, and aspirin. Cancer Management and Research 2018; 10:2003-2018.
Case report: stage 4 pancreatic cancer to remission using paricalcitol and hydroxychloroquine in addition to traditional chemotherapy. Annals of Pancreatic Cancer 2018.