In 2014, Bryce Olson, global marketing director at Intel’s Health and Life Sciences group, was diagnosed with a very aggressive prostate cancer. Doctors commented that it was one of the fastest growing prostate cancer cases they’d seen. Median survival for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones is 21 months. Bryce shouldn’t be here today according to the averages. But he is, and he’s thriving.
Bryce received a sophisticated diagnosis that included molecular testing. Cancer cells have their own unique DNA fingerprint. Molecular testing can reveal that fingerprint, opening the door to new targeted treatment options including clinical trials that attempt to go after cancer more precisely. Bryce did that. With the help of his doctor, he qualified for a perfect fit clinical trial that shut down his aggressive cancer for two years and he’s nowhere near dying.
We need more outcomes like Bryce’s. FACTS raised $40,000 to help expand precision oncology research at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. Working side-by-side with treating physicians, scientists will rely on advanced research techniques such as electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, drug screening, and genetic sequencing (molecular testing) to reveal the mechanisms of tumor evolution and resistance, helping doctors more effectively treat these patients.
FACTS is unique in that it uses music as one of the methods to raise awareness for the amazing potential of precision medicine. With a passion for music, Bryce wrote songs which were recorded with the help of talented musicians in Portland, Oregon including Jenny Conlee of "The Decemberists." Well-known singers across Oregon who have been touched by cancer, including Martha Davis of “The Motels," two-time Oregon Music Hall of Fame inductee Pete Krebs and Michelle DeCourcy, added their voices to complete the album that was released at SXSW in March 2017. You can stream the FACTS album at Spotify, or download from iTunes, Amazon or CD Baby.
The FACTS mission: Expand precision medicine to advanced cancer patients.
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Today over 22,000 people worldwide will die of Cancer. Sadly for people with advanced stage 4 cancer that has spread (metastasized), this condition is generally incurable and almost always becomes fatal. Chemotherapy can extend life but generally doesn’t extend quality of life due to extreme toxicity. Median survival data is readily available on-line for most advanced cancers that have become ‘metastatic’ stage 4. It’s bleak.
Precision Medicine is a new way to battle cancer. Instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ therapy like chemo, precision medicine uses molecular profiling among other advanced research techniques to reveal the DNA fingerprint of an individual’s cancer. With that data, doctors can diagnose and potentially treat the disease more effectively. Today, precision medicine isn’t the ‘standard of care’ for most cancers. Most advanced cancer patients are not familiar with molecular testing and the door remains shut to new options including targeted clinical trials.
We need to change that. Molecular profiling can identify the mutations in DNA that are driving the growth of cancer and is key to personalizing cancer treatment.