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New drug helps Paul fight lung cancer

01 December 2016

After being put on a course of anti-biotics Paul, who lives with wife Jacqui in Burntwood, near Lichfield, was fitted with a chest drain at Burton Hospital as doctors thought he might have pneumonia.

Further tests revealed 59-year-old Paul had two cancerous tumours in his right lung and was told that even with treatment he probably only had nine months to live.

That was in September last year. Now, following treatment at Spire Little Aston Hospital under consultant oncologist Dr Shan Chetiyawardana (Cheti), Paul’s
tumours are continuing to shrink as his body reacts well to a new drug in the fight against cancer.

Now Paul, an engineering director with a West Bromwich company, is calling on other people with persistent coughs to demand to see their GP and have a chest Xray.

“I realise that GP surgeries are busy places and that people don’t like to ‘bother’ their doctor with minor illnesses but if you have had a cough for more than three weeks you really do need to have it checked out.”

“I was probably a little too easy-going but given the situation again, I would demand that I saw a GP, no matter how many times the nurse told me ‘it would go away in time.” he added.

A three-month course of chemotherapy seemed to be working and the tumours disappeared to the extent that Paul was told the lung showed ‘no discernible signs of cancer’.

However, when they did return in March this year Dr Cheti decided to try the new drug Nivolumab - not yet available on the NHS - which, put simply, encourages the body’s own immunity system to fight again the cancer cells.

“The results have been brilliant,” said Paul, who has just celebrated the birth of his third grand-child. “The only side effect I have suffered is tiredness and
everyone is very happy at how the tumours have shrunk. I know the drug doesn’t work on everyone so it seems I have been very lucky.”

Dr Cheti explained: “Nivolumab modulates the body’s own lymphocytes to attack the cancer cells. It is not a chemotherapy drug therefore hasn't got the usual side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting, hair loss, low blood counts and risk of infection. It is basically an immunity modulator.

“This drug and few similar drugs have received the FDA approval in America and Pan European license but NICE have rejected it twice, mostly on cost grounds, and therefore we can't use it in the NHS.”