AN experimental bowel cancer drug has shrunk a woman’s tumour by half.
Terri Hurdman, 49, says she felt better within hours of taking “the wonder drug”.
The grandmother joined a clinical trial at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester after traditional treatments failed to improve her condition.
The medicine, which targets a specific gene controlling how cancer grows, is so new it has not been given a name yet.
But medics are impressed by its results, which bring new hope to patients with a type of cancer gene that is historically hard to treat.
Ms Hurdman, from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, had been left exhausted and out of breath due to her bowel cancer.
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She struggled with simple tasks such as climbing the stairs, walking a short distance or even talking on the phone.
But within hours of trialling the new drug in October 2021, she was climbing stairs with no effort.
Previously fit and healthy Ms Hurdman said: “It’s like a miracle. It really is a wonder drug.
“Within days I didn’t need to use the wheelchair at all, and I didn’t get out of breath climbing stairs, which would have previously led to a coughing fit.
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“That day I spoke to my sister on the phone for an hour, something that would have wiped me out before.
“My appetite came back, which made me look so much healthier, and the colour returned to my cheeks.
“I didn’t think I’d make it to Christmas, but now I’m looking forward to celebrating my 50th birthday in July. I feel myself again and I’m able to enjoy life.”
After three months of taking the drug, scans showed her tumours had halved in size.
Dr Matthew Krebs, medical oncologist from the Christie, leading on the study in the UK, said: “We are delighted at the response Terri has had to this treatment.
“Her scans show that her tumours have reduced by nearly 50 per cent in just three months.”
Ms Hurdman, who has three children and six grandchildren, was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2020.
The former factory worker initially thought her symptoms – including a stomach ache – may be irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
But her GP referred her to Kidderminster Hospital, which diagnosed her with stage 4 bowel cancer which had spread to her lungs.
Ms Hurdman underwent three types of chemotherapy, which failed to work, and medics told her she had no options left.
By August 2021 she had become very ill, had lost a stone and a half in weight and was becoming weaker, needing a wheelchair to leave the house.
Ms Hurdman’s consultant knew the Christie was investigating therapies, and she was sent to Manchester in September to see if there was a suitable clinical trial for her.
She has a mutation in the KRAS gene of her cancer and, until now, it has been difficult for scientists to design drugs to treat this gene.
The trial of the drug is in early stages and involves patients globally, the BBC reports.
Dr Krebs said: “This is promising for a drug early in its development directed at KRAS mutation that has historically been very difficult to treat.
“It targets only a specific sub-type of KRAS mutation, and a similar drug has already been approved for patients with lung cancer.
“There’s much more work to do before this drug may be available routinely for patients, and not everyone will respond in this way.
“But Terri’s case highlights the importance of genetic testing in cancer patients and the potential benefits that clinical trials of new drugs can hold.”
Dr Krebs said Ms Hurdman’s mutation (KRAS G12C) is one of the most common mutations across a range of cancer types.
It occurs in about 12 to 15 per cent of lung cancers and three to four per cent of bowel cancers.
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Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, while 43,000 are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The Sun launched its No Time 2 Lose campaign in 2018, calling for bowel cancer screening to be lowered from 60 to 50.
The warning signs of bowel cancer you shouldn’t ignore
The five red-flag symptoms of bowel cancer include:
- Bleeding from the back passage, or blood in your poo
- A change in your normal toilet habits – going more frequently for example
- Pain or a lump in your tummy
- Extreme tiredness
- Losing weight
Other signs of bowel cancer include:
- Gripping pains in the abdomen
- Feeling bloated
- Constipation and being unable to pass wind
- Being sick
- Feeling like you need to strain – like doing a number two – but after you've been to the loo
The NHS says: "See a GP if you have any of the symptoms of bowel cancer for three weeks or more."
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