Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is the only site in Florida currently participating in the TAPUR Study sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
TAPUR — Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry — is for patients with advanced solid tumors in a variety of cancers, including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and head and neck, which are no longer responding to standard cancer treatments. Patients must have genomic or molecular testing to participate in the study. This allows researchers to find a potential experimental treatment match among 16 different options.
Anita Shangvi of North Palm Beach goes to Sylvester in Deerfield every three weeks for an infusion. She is receiving an investigational therapy for advanced breast cancer that is FDA-approved for other types of cancer.
“You’re infused with optimism,” said Shangvi. “I’m back in the game and headed toward the playoffs. It helps out.”
“What we’re doing in TAPUR is matching the patient’s tumor mutation with the drug that has an FDA approval for another cancer type,” said Carmen Calfa, M.D., a breast cancer medical oncologist and Sylvester’s principal investigator in the trial. “The site of origin or the kind of cancer no longer matters — what matters is what drives that cancer growth, what mutation that cancer has.”
More than a year ago, before coming to Sylvester, doctors told Shangvi that treatments were no longer working for her, and they recommended hospice care. That’s when she sought another opinion from Charles Vogel, M.D., a breast cancer medical oncologist at Sylvester in Deerfield.
“Her breathing was so bad we had to radiate her chest to even give her a chance at other chemotherapies,” said Dr. Vogel. “After trying a few chemotherapies, we had her tumor tested for next-generation sequencing, leading to possible eligibility for immunotherapy.”
Fortunately, Shangvi’s enrollment in the TAPUR Study has produced some tumor response to date. In fact, she noticed a difference after just three treatments.
“I had a node in my neck that I could feel — I was touching it obsessively,” said Shangvi. “It has gone away since I started.”
“I’m amazed to see how these immunotherapies can actually cause tumor shrinkage in patients who have failed lines and lines of therapy,” said Dr. Calfa. “We are making a lot of progress, and I’m really encouraged by it. The fact that we have this study available for our patients is bringing not only hope but also potentially amazing responses. It could be a game changer for many patients.”
Physicians: To refer a patient to the TAPUR Study at Sylvester, email firstname.lastname@example.org.