Avera Medical Minute: Breast Cancer Study - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Breast Cancer Study

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Judy Johnson gets her weekly chemotherapy treatment at the Avera Cancer Institute. Judy Johnson gets her weekly chemotherapy treatment at the Avera Cancer Institute.

We wrap up our 3 part series on the 10th anniversary of the Avera Research Institute.  Most of us have no idea about the amount of research being done right here in Sioux Falls, including 9 clinical trials going on for breast cancer alone.  Here's more on one of them that hopes to prove a drug will prevent the recurrence of cancer.

Judy Johnson says, "You want to fight it and give it all you have."

Judy Johnson from Brookings was diagnosed with breast cancer in April. She immediately went in to battle mode by having a mastectomy.

Judy says, "It was in my lymph nodes so they took all of them out."

In June she enrolled in the Avera Research Institute's clinical drug trial for Avastin.

Registered Nurse Cheryl Ageton is the study coordinator: She says, "Avastin is a drug currently used in other cancers and used in breast cancer when it's metastasized or gone to other organs. We are looking to see if this drug will work as a preventative. Preventing it from spreading."

Once a week, Judy comes to Sioux Falls once a week for her standard treatment of care at the Avera Cancer Institute and the infusion suite which is chemotherapy, but every 3 weeks she gets the Avastin or a placebo. 8 out of 10 of the study patients get the Avastin so chances are good she's getting it.

Judy says, "When I heard about the study, I jumped at it. You want to do everything you can to fight the disease."

Since Judy's breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes that put her at risk for bone cancer... as well as liver, lung and brain cancer. That also made her a prime candidate for this study. Participants had to have surgery to remove the breast cancer and enroll before they start chemo. They also couldn't have a previous cancer before the breast cancer.

Cheryl says, "We want to know what it adds for side effects in using it this preventative way because we haven't used it in this way."

Judy says other than elevated blood pressure, she hasn't had any side effects, but she also doesn't know for sure if she is getting the drug. She hopes so.

"You know I just told Cheryl I'm going to have mixed feelings when it's done because the staff is wonderful here and I've met good friends that are going through the same thing. I won't miss the chemo though," she laughed.

And hopefully, if Avastin works, they won't ever have to go through this again.

The study could last up to a year for some of the participants. Some will continue taking Avastin for 7 and a half months following their chemotherapy.  There are several other studies and trials currently enrolling patients. Go to Avera Research Institute to learn more.


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