condemned to die within 12 months, he is cured thanks to immunotherapy


  • The bile ducts are the channels that carry bile from the liver – where the digestive juices that aid digestion are produced – to the gallbladder, where it is stored between meals.
  • Every year, 2,000 people in France are affected by cancer of the biliary tract, according to the French National Society of Gastroenterology.

I asked my doctor to be honest with me and tell me how much time I had left [à vivre], explained Robert Glynn, a 51-year-old English welder, to the media The Guardian. She told me 12 months.“And yet, today this patient who had bile duct cancer is completely cured. It is not a miracle, but the result of an immunotherapy treatment that he received as part of a clinical trial.

Very advanced bile duct cancer

Robert Glynn’s story goes back to 2019. When he was only 49 years old, doctors diagnosed him with bile duct cancer at a very advanced stage. In addition to the bile ducts, his adrenal glands and liver are actually affected. Practitioners believe that the tumors cannot be operated on. The disease is therefore incurable, and the patient’s life prognosis should not exceed 12 months.

There are two types of bile duct cancer or cholangiocarcinoma, depending French National Society of Gastroenterology (SNFGE). The first is said to be intrahepatic and is manifested by a tumor in the liver. The other, called extrahepatic, is related to a narrowing of the bile duct. In most cases, the symptoms of bile duct cancer appear at an advanced stage, which explains why they are generally fatal, as specified in MSD manual.

Immunotherapy treatment, hope for patients

For the management of his cancer, Robert Glynn is directed christie foundation, which specializes in the treatment of cancer in Europe and is managed by the UK’s public health system, the National Health Service (NHS). He then began an immunotherapy treatment that is already approved for lung, kidney and esophageal cancer, but is still in the clinical trial stage for biliary tract cancer. According to Gustave Roussy Cancer Center, immunotherapy”consists of using the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells and destroy them”.

Thanks to this treatment, supplemented by traditional chemotherapy sessions, Robert Glynn’s tumors shrank and became operable. So last January the surgeons performed the operation to remove them. Result: post-operative analysis of these tumors shows that none contained active cancer cells. This is therefore a very encouraging result for the ongoing clinical trial.

Most patients with this diagnosis [de cancer] do not have as many mutations in their cancer cells, so the treatment will not be as effective, but it highlights the importance of personalized medicinesays Juan Valle, an oncologist at the Christie Foundation. This could lead to a change in the way we treat patients like Robert in the future.

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