Four thousand women in the U.S. will die and another 12 thousand will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone. While there’s no cure, researchers are excited about a new therapy that could improve and even extend the lives of patients with recurring or advanced disease.
For Lisa McDevitt there’s nothing better than hitting the road in her limited edition “warriors in pink” mustang.
“I actually had a woman follow me home and she wanted to know how much and I was like it’s not for sale,” Lisa McDevitt, cervical cancer patient, told Ivanhoe.
It’s Lisa’s reward for successfully battling and beating cervical cancer twice. Her doctor at the time said she wouldn’t survive round two.
“She said you will be dead within six years. I really was just ready to die,” Lisa said.
That’s when Dr. Larry Kilgore asked her to join a clinical trial. It’s for patients with advanced or recurrent cervical cancer. Researchers are testing a new therapy that combines the biologic drug Avastin with chemo.
“So, the chemotherapy kills the cancer cells and the biologic agent stops blood vessel growth so tumors can’t grow. It’s a real, real advance,” Larry C. Kilgore, MD, Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Division Director at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, told Ivanhoe.
Results from the phase 3 trial showed patients who received Avastin and chemo lived an average of 17 months, compared to about 13 months for those treated with chemo alone. As for Lisa, it’s been two years since her last chemo.
“Yes, she is disease free. We will have to follow her to see, but so far so good,” Dr. Kilgore said.
While Avastin is FDA approved for the treatment of some cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer, it’s not currently approved for cervical cancer. You can still get the treatment, but your insurance company may not cover it and this treatment can cost thousands of dollars per month.
BACKGROUND: People with diabetes are more likely to have a foot, toe, or leg amputated than other people. It happens because diabetics have blood vessel disease, which reduces blood flow to the feet, and nerve disease, that reduces sensation in the feet. These two conditions together cause sores and infections that may lead to amputation. Despite changes in care over the years, foot, toe, and leg amputations are still common. Research has been able to show links between risk factors like high blood pressure and high blood glucose and a person’s chance of having a lower-extremity amputation (LEA). However, more research needs to be done in order to evaluate which patients with diabetes are most at risk. (Source: www.diabetes.org)
TYPE 1 DIABETES: The Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy was a long-term study of eye disease in people with type 1 diabetes that was conducted to find out how common lower-extremity amputations were in people with type 1 diabetes. It involved 943 patients. Researchers looked at how many patients got diabetes-related lower-extremity amputations over the years. They also looked at other possible risk factors like sex, age, age at diabetes diagnosis, length of time with the disease, blood glucose and blood pressure control, smoking status, weight, and the presence of other diabetes-related complications. Over the course of 25 years, about ten percent of the patients had an LEA. People with type 1 diabetes have a high chance of needing an LEA over the long term. Those with high blood glucose or high blood pressure and those who are heavy smokers are at a greater risk. (Source: www.diabetes.org)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Building upon past research, Dr. Bruce Werber of InMotion Foot & Ankle Specialists developed a treatment for diabetic foot ulcers that prevents amputations. Dr. Werber gets the open, infected wounds to close by injecting them with amniotic fluid. "We now have amniotic membrane and fluid that is cryopreserved. So it can be used on anybody at anytime and anywhere and morselized so it can be injected. We don't have to have a live birth to collect it, and it can be harvested in very clean, sterile conditions. We inject it in and around the wound, and it enhances the healing,” Dr. Werber was quoted as saying. (Source: http://www.samuelmerritt.edu) Dr. Werber says a diabetic ulcer happens when diabetics lose sensation in their feet. It’s called neuropathy, and it happens gradually. He says diabetics may get a cut and don’t know it. That cut could then become infected and the wound can erode through the skin and down to the bone. He says even a small diabetic ulcer can become life-threatening. In his study of 20 patients, they all had wounds that were unresponsive to other more traditional treatments. He said they injected the amniotic membrane around the wounds, and they started to close within days. The membrane has mesenchymal stem cells, which have all of the nutritional materials the tissue needs to heal. It stimulates the body very aggressively to start to create healthy tissue. Dr. Werber says of the 20 patients, all of their wounds have responded, and 90 percent have closed in the last year. “Everybody had progression, which is pretty remarkable for any medication,” Dr. Werber said. (Source: http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/2012/01/04/20120104scottsdale-podiatrist-develops-foot-ulcer-treatment.html)
Dr. Richard Jacoby, Medical Director at Scottsdale Neuropathy Institute, talks about how amniotic fluid can save diabetics’ feet.
We’re talking about diabetes and how there’s a huge problem with people having to have their feet amputated because of it. How many patients are getting amputations?
Dr. Jacoby: There are probably about 100,000 amputations every year in the United States due to that problem. It’s an incredible number, especially today in this world with modern medicine.
As a doctor, what is it like to have to tell someone they’re going to have to get their foot amputated?
Dr. Jacoby: It’s devastating. It’s devastating to tell people who have diabetes, which is the main reason of amputation in the United States, but they have no pain at the end of this process. So, for them it’s not that bad because they don’t have any pain; they just have an infection. They usually become septic so they’re happy to have that leg amputated. The real question is why do they get to that state in the first place? Why didn’t they have early intervention? What we’ve been working on is trying to find out if there is an earlier detection system for people with diabetic neuropathy and diabetes itself.
Can you explain the breakthrough wi“Amniotic Fluid Saves Feet” Dr. Richard Jacoby th amniotic fluid?
Dr. Jacoby: Amniotic fluid is a really interesting substance. It’s been around obviously for humans since the beginning of time. It’s where the fetus is bathed in this fluid, amniotic fluid. In the United States we did the original research with the embryonic stem cells, but they were ethically put on the back burner. So, that technology went out of the country to China and Panama, but the scientists who worked on that substance came up with some amazing discoveries. Amniotic fluid seems to meet the criteria to develop new tissue. In our practice here we have used it to develop new bone and skin and to cure ulcers. We’ve had our first patient two weeks ago with multiple sclerosis who we used amniotic fluid on with a decompression surgery and she went from a wheelchair to walking with a cane, which is an amazing recovery.