Challenges for Treating Patients with Rare Cancers

Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, discusses the challenges patients and providers face when it comes to rare cancers.

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2018 annual meeting in Chicago, Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, head of operations in the Brain Tumor Center at Cleveland Clinic, discusses challenges patients and providers face when it comes to rare cancers.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

Ahluwalia: “For both physicians and patients with rare cancers, the first thing I would want to give out is the message of hope. There is extensive genomic profiling that is being done at leading centers that is available through a number of vendors.

If you have a rare tumor, I would definitely suggest seeking a second opinion, if needed, at a leading cancer institution close to where you live or a center that has clinical trial options.

One of the challenges of treating patients with rare cancers is often there are not many US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies for these patients. They have to depend on—in a large number of cases—clinical trials that will allow such patients to go on with novel drugs that are not FDA approved.

We [at the Cleveland Clinic] and several other institutions are working together. As a brain tumor physician, I am very open to collaboration. We see a number of patients and seek second opinions for new options [for patients] that may not be available to them close to home.”