There is a research study going on right now at the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls with remarkable outcomes. An elderly man once in hospice care now has a second shot at life. We got a chance to talk to the one and only patient in the study and how he's feeling today in our Avera Medical Minute.
73 year old retired farmer from Elk Point, Joe Donnelly, is used to be poked and prodded. Last year he found out he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, the most common aggressive cancers of the blood. If not treated can be fatal within a matter of months. Joe's brother also suffered the same cancer.
Joe says, "It's hard to believe both of us would get it."
In March of 2007, Joe's doctors at the VA Hospital discovered a problem with his blood work. In May he was diagnosed with AML ( Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and by September he was in a nursing home in Elk Point, in hospice care.
Joe says, "I went to the nursing home and I got better and they couldn't figure it out. Every time I'd ask the hospice nurse something she couldn't figure it out. I was getting better and she said I haven't seen a patient like you which was good to hear."
In November Joe enrolled in a research study at the Avera Cancer Institute. It's being done because the current treatment options for AML are not very effective for patients in Joe's age group. We are happy to report it's working! He has regressed back to MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome), the precursor to leukemia.
Joe is getting an investigational drug currently in trials for various blood cancers. It's a form of chemotherapy without the horrible side effects called Decitabine ( Dacogen is the registered name of the medication).
Dr. Vinod Parameswaran is the Principal Researcher for the study at ACI. He says, " What the drug does is reprograms the genes in the cancer cells whatever the problem was in the cancer cell seems to be overcome by the medicine."
Joe says, "I feel good and I have hope. My quality of life has improved greatly."
No better prognosis than hope. Joe will have to continue treatment once a month for the rest of his life, but he says he'll do it without complaint because it sure beats the alternative.
For more information go to www.avera.org