Recently Approved US Drug Helps Canadian Boy With Thyroid Cancer

According to a story from Global Knock, nine year old Ashton Leeds has been living an active life again lately, but a year ago, things were not looking up for him. He was practically bedridden and weakened from intense treatment. This is because Ashton, of Alberta, Canada, was diagnosed with advanced stage four thyroid cancer when he was four years old. Ashton has been improving since he started taking an drug called larotrectinib, which was recently approved in the US as a treatment for several different types of cancer.

About Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer affects the cells of the thyroid, a gland located in the neck which plays a role in the endocrine system. Rates of thyroid cancer have been rising in recent years, but this probably due to more effective detection methods. There are a number of risk factors for thyroid cancer, such as exposure to radiation, prior thyroid disease, the genetic disorder multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, and enlarged thyroid, and family history. Women and people of Asian descent are more likely to be affected. Symptoms include a noticeable lump in the neck, vocal changes, neck pain, and enlarged or swollen thyroid. Treatment for thyroid cancer may include surgery, Iodine-131, radiation, or other medications when the cancer has metastasized. Although survival rates vary depending on the type, the overall five year survival rate is 98 percent in the US, which is better than most cancers. To learn more about thyroid cancer, click here.

Ashton’s Story

Ashton’s mother Kayley recalls how poor his condition was only a year ago. It is rare for someone as young as Ashton to get thyroid cancer, and as it had reached an advanced stage, it was far more serious than the average case. His intensive treatment with Iodine 131 required him to be isolated from the rest of his family and drained him of energy; he even had difficulty breathing as the cancer spread to his lungs.

New Hope For Patients

Thankfully, it looks like Ashton’s worst days with thyroid cancer are probably behind him. The new drug has made a huge difference for him. Larotrectinib has helped shrink his tumors and since it is a targeted therapy, it has very little side effects. This means a huge boost in quality of life for patients compared to other treatments. Health Canada is currently reviewing the application from the developer to sell the drug in Canada. The drug is also approved in the US for treating soft tissue sarcoma, lung cancer, infantile fibrosarcoma, and salivary gland cancer.

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