In December of 2015, Duane L. Monette received the devastating news of metastatic cancer. After hunting in Minnesota, he felt something swollen along his neck that didn’t “feel quite right.” By the following week he visited an ENT who biopsied the site. The diagnosis was “carcinoma of unknown primary origin.” At his home in Utah, Monette visited Dr. Brian Tudor of Intermountain Healthcare’s Southwest Cancer Clinic in St. George.
Determined to find answers, Tudor ordered the ICG100™ test. During Monette’s visit Tudor mentioned, “It’s best to treat immediately, but it’s best to treat the correct cancer.” Looking for gene alterations, Intermountain Precision Genomics Core Laboratory analyzed Monette’s tumor through Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). Even though doctors were unable to find the source of the cancer, Monette was treated according to his genomic profile.
Additional markers identified by pathology hinted at bladder or kidney cancer. Then, genomic sequencing confirmed a gene alteration in the tumor cells, FGFR3, which is common in bladder cancer.
With little to no side effects from the targeted therapy, Monette was able to return to his outdoor activities. While on a fishing trip in Canada, he fell. “It was like someone took my feet from right under me.” Monette was rushed to the ER and blood was discovered in his urinalysis and a dark mass on his kidney. Upon arriving home, Monette visited his urologist. A biopsy was performed and markers of urethral cancer were discovered. “My doctor said, ‘That was the luckiest fall of your life! Now I can cure you.’” Monette had his kidney removed and remains on a targeted drug with a continuous positive response.
The world would love to see the day when cancer is wiped completely from vocabulary. In Monette’s instance, precision medicine and a targeted drug therapy are treating Monette’s cancer like a “chronic disease.” Logic stands to reason, had Monette not received a targeted treatment recommended from genomic testing initially, his kidney cancer could have progressed dramatically. Professionals speculate, this example of starting a targeted treatment right away likely saved Monette’s life.
Monette still enjoys the things he loves. Monette is an avid golfer. He enjoys playing tennis and pickle ball with his wife. Together they enjoy hiking and watching movies. “I feel very, very lucky that we have the cancer clinic here in St. George and that it’s involved in the high-tech treating of cancer.”