How a man saved thousand others

It was in 1974. Freshly graduated from the University of Indiana, in Indianapolis, Lawrence Einhorn believed that, for certain chemotherapy-sensitive tumors, such as testicular cancer, a slight refinement of certain protocols could produce substantial improvements in cure rates.

He had read a promising article about the use of cisplatin as monotherapy in the treatment of testicular tumors and this is how he came up with the idea of combining cisplatin with vinblastine and bleomycin, two agents that had shown interesting activity in the treatment of these tumors. He had hoped to obtain complete remission in 15 to 20% of patients, which was a significant improvement considering the lowly 5 to 10% success rate with cisplatin-free chemotherapy.

He was shocked to observe that the overall response rate was beyond 70%! Over the years, his team has continued to refine the protocol, replacing vinblastine with etoposide, thus reducing the length of treatment, improving the management of side effects caused by cisplatin and attaining overall response rates above 95%.

He could have stopped there, but instead, he developed a second line of chemotherapy for the 5% of relapsing patients; and a third line of high-dose chemotherapy with the use of stem cells for highly refractory cases.

He has treated an incalculable number of patients, including Lance Armstrong. Now over the age of 70, he continues to practice medicine and improve his protocol! I've been lucky enough to speak to him on multiple occasions and to realize what a great man he is.

More than 40 years after his discovery, his protocol is still the one that provides the best chance of survival. We still use his combination principles in other forms of cancer. Lawrence Einhorn transformed a methodical killer of young men into a highly treatable condition. It's an immeasurable medical achievement, the discovery of a lifetime, which has changed – and saved – multiple lives. Lawrence Einhorn is the Chuck Norris of testicular cancer. Thank you Lawrence.

Jean-Philippe BoucherComment