Richard Berry had tried nearly everything to fight his prostate cancer: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. But after two years of treatment, his cancer had metastasized. The opportunity to participate in a clinical trial was his last hope. “I wasn’t ready to die,” Berry, 75, of Keene, NH, tells The Post. “I didn’t want to mess around.”
In 2015, he connected with Dr. Christopher Sweeney, an oncologist at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was leading a trial in which the drug enzalutamide — an androgen-receptor inhibitor that stops the growth of cancer cells — was being used in conjunction with testosterone suppression to treat metastasized prostate cancer.
Berry became one of 1,125 patients involved in the trial. Remarkably, he’s now cancer-free. “He’s one of the most dramatic cases to date,” Sweeney tells The Post of Berry’s progress. “He’s in a deep remission. This is what I had hoped to see. However, the magnitude of the effect and the early results were a surprise and delight.”
So far, Sweeney says, he’s seen a handful of deep remissions like Berry’s and that “the results were positive sooner than we anticipated.” The study was published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine. The drug, which is already FDA-approved for other uses, is currently under FDA review to make it more widely available for metastasized prostate cancer patients and not just for use in clinical trials.
Approval is anticipated “any day now,” according to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reps. Meanwhile, Berry’s scans continue to be clear a year after he stopped the treatment. “I don’t even think about [the cancer] anymore,” Berry says. “I feel good. I have energy again, and, overall, I’m just happy.”
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