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5 Years After Larotrectinib Treatment, MSK Patient Celebrates First Day of Kindergarten

By: Lauren Velentzas
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Most families will be starting this school year hoping to celebrate their students’ academic achievements. However, for the family of 5-year-old Rihanna, being able to start kindergarten is reason enough for celebration. Rihanna was born in 2017 with a tumor the size of her head on her right arm. After undergoing chemotherapy, with amputation discussed, she was brought to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), where MSK-IMPACT and MSK-Fusion testing were used to detect an NTRK gene mutation.

Pediatric oncologist Neerav N. Shukla, MD, and the team at MSK created a care plan that focused on targeting the cancer-driving effects of NTRK. Her treatment made history as one of the first times the then-experimental drug larotrectinib was used to treat a pediatric patient with an NTRK gene mutation. Within weeks of treatment, Rihanna’s tumor had shrunk to the point where it could be surgically removed, allowing her to maintain use of her right arm.

“Children like Rihanna show the promise of genetic testing for children with cancer,” said geneticist and pediatric oncologist Michael Walsh, MD, of MSK.

Rihanna is happy to be starting school after skipping a level of pre-K. She enjoys spending her time playing dress-up, doing math puzzles, and playing with her puppy, Bentley, named for the hotel where her family stayed during her treatment.


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