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Case Study

Against the odds – A battle with brain cancer

Published June 29th, 2022

Our brains are a marvel. They direct and control our physical actions, determine how we think and remember, and shape our emotional responses. While we can’t see them, our brains are the very core of our being and critical to our overall health.

The challenge

In July 2021, Peter was suffering from confusion and memory loss along with headaches and noticeable changes to his personality. Something wasn’t right and he needed answers. The 51-year-old underwent a brain biopsy, and it delivered devastating news – Peter had brain cancer. Following his diagnosis, he met with a local neurosurgeon who delivered more bad news. His tumor was inoperable. With no other options, he underwent a standard course of radiation and chemotherapy with minimal treatment response. With the help of his aunt, Peter engaged with PHM in December 2021.

PHM insights

As PHM has extensive experience with brain cancer, we immediately set up a consultation with one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons to determine if the tumor was truly inoperable.

Within two weeks, the neurosurgeon reviewed Peter’s case and met with him to share a surprising opinion – he was confident he could remove at least 80% of the tumor without any post-operative residual deficits. Peter underwent surgery to remove his tumor in March of 2022, in New York City, and flew home to his family only four days later.


Given brain cancer can be unpredictable, PHM is planning the next phase of treatment. Personalized immunotherapy is a promising treatment that uses an individual’s own immune system to fight cancer. The immunotherapy designed for Peter consists of two parts – the use of Keytruda, an off-label drug to activate the immune system, and a personalized anti-cancer vaccine to target the cancer.

Therapeutic cancer vaccines are an experimental treatment that have shown significant promise in certain difficult-to-treat brain cancers. His treatment begins in July. “Less than a year ago, I had a nonresectable tumor. Now my tumor is nearly gone, and I am going to receive the best cancer treatment available in the world…all thanks to PHM,” Peter said.

* Name changed to protect privacy

* Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

About the Authors

Tracy Arsenault, MPAP, PA-C

Clinical Director | Physician Assistant

Tracy is a board-certified Physician Assistant with experience as a Physician Assistant in Cardiology, Cardiothoracic and Vascular surgery. In addition, she has extensive experience as a clinical research associate with focus in endocrinology and nuclear medicine.

Ross Keller, PhD

Research Director

Dr. Keller is focused on providing decision-grade information to cancer patients regarding the best treatments options. He has experience in genomics, cancer evolution, tumor modeling, and early-stage drug development.