|PATIENT STORY: Dean Nickens takes part
in a clinical trial at Edward to treat
In spring of 2008 Dean Nickens, 60, of St. John, Missouri, learned the bump on his leg he thought was a routine injury was actually a type of sarcoma, called chondrosarcoma, on his upper thigh bone. Sarcomas are cancers that start in bone or soft tissues in the body.
In July 2008, his surgeon removed eight inches of femur, along with a tumor bigger than an orange. They also inserted an 11-inch titanium rod to replace the bone that was removed.
It was going well until April 2010 when he learned tumors had spread to the lungs. Two surgeries followed.
"It's not unusual for chondrosarcomas to spread to the lungs," says medical oncologist Samir Undevia, MD, of the Edward Hematology Oncology Group. "And there's no chemotherapy or radiation treatment for this type of cancer."
Nickens still hoped to golf again, but in April 2011 the tumors returned. The surgeon told him additional surgery would be too dangerous.
"He said I had six months to two years to live," says Nickens.
The next stop was an oncologist at St. Louis University who told Nickens about a chondrosarcoma clinical trial. Nickens was accepted into the study and he and his wife Cathy began monthly trips to Philadelphia to pick up the study medication, Panzopanib, and to meet with clinical staff.
Still, they were glad to shorten that distance when a study site opened at Edward Hospital.
"Since he's been on the Panzopanib his tumors have stopped growing and the cancer has stopped spreading," says Dr. Undevia.
"It's like a miracle that the study opened right about the time Dean was told there's nothing we can do," says Cathy.
Edward is the only site in Illinois for the chondrosarcoma clinical trial, and Dr. Undevia is one of only eight medical oncologists in the Chicago area with expertise in sarcoma.
For more information, visit www.edward.org/cancer or call (630) 646-6075.