Former Republican presidential candidate and colon cancer survivor, Herman Cain has died after battling coronavirus for nearly a month, according to an AP report. He was 74.
Cain was hospitalized less than two weeks after he attended Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma campaign rally in June, although it is not known when or where he was infected with the coronavirus. He had been co-chair of Black Voices for Trump.Read More
A graduate of Morehouse College, Cain held top positions at Burger King and Godfather’s Pizza before becoming CEO and President of the National Restaurant Association. He also served as the director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City before running for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2004.
He lost that bid and was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer less than two years later. The cancer had spread to his liver.
Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, on treating colon cancer that has spread to the liver.
God Had Other Plans
After successfully beating cancer, he later said he believed that surviving cancer meant God had other plans for him. After President Obama took office in early 2009, he pledged to run for President, hoping to become the first Black politician to win the Republican nomination.
A longshot, his Presidential bid was propelled forward in September 2011 when Florida straw-poll voters turned to Cain when they felt Mitt Romney was not conservative enough.
Colon cancer can sometimes block the large intestine, which is regarded as a surgical emergency, says Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.
Acknowledging Cain’s death, Romney tweeted, “Saddened that Herman Cain—a formidable champion of business, politics and policy—has lost his battle with Covid.”
Stage 4 Colon Cancer
When the tumor has spread to other areas of the body colon cancer is classified as stage 4 and known as metastatic colon cancer.
This is often managed with chemotherapy alone or, in select cases, a combination of chemotherapy and surgery depending on the patient, tumor properties, and where the metastases are located.
Stage 4 colon cancer can be managed with surgery alone or a combination of chemotherapy and surgery, says Dr. Paul Oberstein, a medical oncologist at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center.
In some cases, it is not possible to surgically remove all of these tumors. In that case, the primary goal of treatment is to manage the cancer or, in other words, to prevent the cancer from growing, spreading and causing symptoms.
A combination of patient factors and tumor properties determine which chemotherapy will be used to treat metastatic colon cancer.
Chemotherapy for Stage 4 Colon Cancer
For most people, however, the treatment for metastatic colon cancer is chemotherapy.
The most common therapy is called FOLFOX, and your doctor may add medications like irinotecan (FOLFIRI) or cetuximab depending on how well your tumor shrinks with treatment and other specifics about your particular tumor.
For FOLFOX, the medications are given through the vein and require regular doctor visits. The most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, and numbness in the hands and feet.
Immunotherapy For Advanced Colon Cancer
Just this month, an exciting, first-line treatment option for colon cancer patients with tumor abnormalities has been approved by the FDA.
The drug, Pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda) is an immunotherapy checkpoint inhibitor specifically for those with metastatic or unresectable microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) disease.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors are a part of immunotherapy, a treatment option that harnesses the power of your own immune system to fight off cancer cells. The inhibitors are man-made antibodies that help shut down the proteins and cells which drive cancer’s ability to spread.
Those with MSI-H or dMMR make up 5-10% of patients. Their tumors contain specific abnormalities that hinder DNA from repairing itself. The drug is given by intravenous injection.
“This is groundbreaking,” says Dr. Jun Gong, a medical oncologist at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. “Not only because pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is well-tolerated and demonstrated more than doubling progression-free survival, [but it also] offers patient, for the first time with metastatic colorectal cancer, an option to avoid chemotherapy.”