Cancer-stricken man, 41, given nine months to live astonishes doctors as world-first treatment rids him of brain tumour

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A cancer-stricken man given months to live has stunned doctors after his deadly brain tumour effectively vanished.

Ben Trotman, 41, from West Sussex, signed up for a world-first treatment trial after his shock glioblastoma diagnosis in October 2022.

Told he had likely had just nine months left, he and fiancée Emily brought forward their wedding to last January. 

But Mr Trotman, an investment banker at JP Morgan, is now living a normal life, all because of the ‘lucky break’ therapy he received. Doctors claimed his remarkable recovery was ‘previously unheard of’.

Typical treatment plans for glioblastoma see patients have surgery before chemo and radiotherapy. This is still the same way it was treated in the early 2000s. 

Ben Trotman (pictured), 41, from West Sussex, signed up for a world-first treatment trial after his shock glioblastoma diagnosis in October 2022. Told he had likely had just nine months left, he and fiancée Emily brought forward their wedding to last January 

The Wanted singer Tom Parker (pictured with his wife Kelsey Parker in October 2021) died in March 2022 following an 18-month battle with stage four glioblastoma. He said after his diagnosis that he was 'shocked' at the limited treatment options for GBM and 'massive improvements' were needed

The Wanted singer Tom Parker (pictured with his wife Kelsey Parker in October 2021) died in March 2022 following an 18-month battle with stage four glioblastoma. He said after his diagnosis that he was ‘shocked’ at the limited treatment options for GBM and ‘massive improvements’ were needed

Dr Paul Mulholland, a brain cancer specialist based at University College Hospital, London and head of the new trial, told The Times, that the end result is ‘the same story every time’.

The disease — which strikes around 3,000 Brits and 12,000 Americans each year —usually returns before ultimately killing patients, Dr Mulholland said.

Under his trial, patients were supposed to get a course of immunotherapy before undergoing the usual course of treatments.

Immunotherapy revs up the body’s internal weaponry to hunt and destroy cancer cells.

The Times reported that the trial had to close with Mr Trotman as its only patient. 

Yet Dr Mulholland said the results were so promising that a cure might finally be on the horizon.

He said: ‘I believe we have the tools to cure it.

‘We need to intervene early to give patients the best chance for longer-term survival.

‘It is important not just for brain cancer patients but for all the other left-behind cancers with poor survival, like pancreatic cancer.’

Average survival time for glioblastoma is between 12 and 18 months, according to the Brain Tumour Charity. Only 5 per cent of patients survive five years, it says.

The disease killed the Labour politician Dame Tessa Jowell in 2018.

Last March, The Wanted singer Tom Parker also died following an 18-month battle with stage four glioblastoma.

He said after his diagnosis that he was ‘shocked’ at the limited treatment options for GBM and ‘massive improvements’ were needed.  

Diagnosed patients usually undergo surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible.

This is followed by daily radiation and chemo drugs for around six weeks, after which the drugs are scaled back.

Radiation can be then used to destroy additional tumour cells and treat those who are not well enough for surgery.

But the cancer can double in size in just seven weeks. 

For comparison, the fastest-growing lung cancers take 14 weeks to double.

Under the trial, funded by The Jon Moulton Charity Trust, Mr Trotman first underwent one course of immunotherapy before following standard treatments. 

The cancer, which is diagnosed in around 3,000 Brits and 12,000 Americans a year, is still treated in the same way it was in the early 2000s. The average survival time is around 15 months, with fewer than 10 per cent of patients alive five years after diagnosis following standard treatment. It killed the Labour politician Dame Tessa Jowell in 2018

The cancer, which is diagnosed in around 3,000 Brits and 12,000 Americans a year, is still treated in the same way it was in the early 2000s. The average survival time is around 15 months, with fewer than 10 per cent of patients alive five years after diagnosis following standard treatment. It killed the Labour politician Dame Tessa Jowell in 2018

The unnamed drug used, which is not yet widely available, saw him suffer a severe headache.

Doctors said this was a good sign because it showed his immune system had ‘woken up’ and was attacking the tumour. 

Dr Mulholland has now urged for the same approach to be taken in future trials. 

It comes as Labour MP Dame Siobhan McDonagh last month introduced a bill to parliament calling on an increase in the number of brain tumour clinical trials. 

The MP for Mitcham and Morden lost her sister Baroness Margaret McDonagh, a Labour peer, to a glioblastoma in June last year. 

Under the bills recommendations include, compulsory training for NHS cancer doctors on brain tumours and at least 200 patients a year to join clinical trials. 

WHAT IS A GLIOBLASTOMA AND JUST HOW DEADLY IS IT? THE AGGRESSIVE BRAIN TUMOR SUFFERED BY JOHN MCCAIN 

Glioblastoma is considered the most aggressive tumor that can form in the brain. Senator John McCain was diagnosed with one in July 2017.

Patients have a 10 per cent chance of surviving five years after their diagnosis, according to figures. The average lifespan is between 14 and 16 months.

Three adults per every 100,000 will be struck down with a glioblastoma, says The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).

It is most commonly found in men aged 50 to 60, and there is no link between developing glioblastoma and having a previous history with other cancers.

WHAT IS THE TUMOR MADE OF? 

The tumor is made up of a mass of cells growing quickly in the brain, and in most cases patients have no family history of the disease.

It won’t spread to other organs, however, once it is diagnosed, it is nearly impossible to target, surgeons claim.

Unlike other types of brain cancer which are more specifically located, glioblastoma can occur in any part of the brain. 

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE? 

Because the tumor likely already spread deep into the brain by the time it is diagnosed, the cancerous tissue is incredibly difficult to remove. 

Surgeon will only ever remove the tumor, or part of the tumor, if it won’t do any damage to the surrounding brain tissue.

Dr Babcar Cisse, a neurosurgeon at the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, told Daily Mail Online in July 2017: ‘By the time a glioblastoma is diagnosed, microfibers can spread to the rest of the brain which an MRI would not spot.

‘So even if the main tumor is removed and the patient receives radiation and chemotherapy, it will come back.’ 

GRADING A GLIOBLASTOMA

Brain tumors are graded from between one to four, depending on how fast they grow and how aggressive they are.

Malignant tumors are either given a high-grade three or four, while benign ones are given a lower grade one or two. 

Glioblastoma is often referred to as a grade four astrocytoma – another form of brain tumor, says the AANS.

SYMPTOMS

Patients typically complain of symptoms such as confused vision, trouble with memory, dizziness and headaches.

The symptoms are somewhat nonspecific, and vary from person to person, and may not persist. 

Some patients suffer from blindness if the tumour compresses their optic nerve, which connects the retina to the brain, resulting in vision loss.

The disease is therefore impossible to diagnose based on symptoms alone.

 

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