Hundreds of clinical trials could one day not only change lives but maybe even save lives and it’s all happening right here in Arizona.
The University of Arizona’s Cancer Center in Tucson is the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated facility and ABC15 recently got to see part of it for ourselves.
In September, we introduced you to Teresa and her son Julio, who was recently told he is cancer-free after a two-year battle with neuroblastoma.
“That word – cancer – was so far from my thoughts,” explains Teresa. “I thought – this can’t be happening.”
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Doctors at Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson, part of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, made a special request that Teresa was eager to help with.
“They asked for my permission to take a sample of Julio’s tumor to analyze it and keep looking for better treatments…I thought about other kids in the future, with that small piece of Julio’s tumor, they could find better treatments for other children.”
It’s just one of the many clinical trials that are currently happening at the UA Cancer Center, in fact, according to their website, the facility is currently taking part in more than 200 clinical trials.
Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis is the Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and also a professor in Pediatrics, Medicine, Pathology, and Immunobiology at the University of Arizona.
He is also one of the lead researchers at the UA Cancer Center, where he has worked for nearly three decades. For Dr. Katsanis, being able to combine the academic and clinical sides of medicine not only benefits his staff but also patients.
“There is an emphasis [on research] because, without research, you can’t improve things,” says Dr. Katsanis. “We can bring things from the bench to the bedside, and then if they don’t work as well as we want, it’s back to the bench and have science progress in that fashion.”
For patients like Julio, part of the joy of beating his own cancer has been helping others maybe one day do the same.
“How generous that you gave a piece of yourself,” ABC15’s Nick Ciletti told Julio. “How does that make you feel?”
“Very good,” Julio replied.
“Do you feel like you’re helping a lot of people?” Ciletti asked.
“Yes,” Julio said.
Thankfully, Julio is still doing great and will need to be seen once every three months to make sure his cancer stays in remission.