Ivette Giancola tells CBS News that when she learned she had stage four pancreatic cancer, she wasn't sure she was going to make it.
"You hear the word 'metastasized' and it's very, very scary," she says.
However, CBS News says that Giancola was eligible to take part in a personalized medicine study using a therapeutic targeted to a genetic mutation found in her tumor.
As Memorial Sloan Kettering's José Baselga and his colleagues report in the New England Journal of Medicine, they enrolled 122 patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive cancers into their phase 2 basket study to examine the efficacy of vemurafenib. The patients had a range of cancer types, including non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.
In many tumor types, Baselga and his colleagues observed partial or complete response and tumor regression and prolonged disease stabilization. For instance, they report a 42 percent objective response rate among 19 patients with non-small cell lung cancer and that 14 of those 19 patients exhibited tumor regression.
This, the researchers say in their paper, indicates that the BRAF V600 mutation is a targetable oncogene in some cancer types.
Giancola tells CBS News that two months after starting the therapy, her tumor shrank by 25 percent. "I feel very lucky," she says. "I'm very blessed. I didn't know if I was going to make it three years."