SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) There are promising new drugs for certain lung cancers being tested right now. In particular, small cell lung cancer.
That hope is the result of ongoing research at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake.
30,000 people die each year from small cell lung cancer. Jim Abel would've been one of them, but instead he survived, thanks to groundbreaking research and being a part of clinical trials.
Jim Abel, "I wouldn't be here. I would've been gone in 2013."
75-year-old Jim Abel has owned JC's Country Diner in Tremonton, Utah, for nearly 3 decades. He still comes to work every day thanks to a life saving experimental drug.
"I wouldn't be here without it. Saved my life, that study, saved my life."
5 years ago, Jim was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer that was spreading to his brain. Doctors told him he had two to six months to live.
He was starting chemotherapy when doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute convinced him to be a guinea pig for a new cancer drug that harnesses the immune system.
Even more exciting research is being done at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Dr. Trudy Oliver, Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator, 'we really need to do genetic testing on patients to know which subtype they have so we can tailor the therapy to them and data suggests we have ideas for novel clinical trials will prolong survival in subsets of people."
The takeaway? Not all small cell cancer tumors should be treated equally.
Although exciting new research is for lung cancer it could bode well for other cancers.
Oliver, "neuroendocrine tumors in the brain, pancreatic gastrointestinal or prostate cancers and even pediatric brain cancers."
Jim's cancer is not curable but his cancer has been contained. He's been feeling great for the last 4 years.
Jim Abel, "keep up the hope. They're getting on top of this. I'm lucky, just lucky."
Dr Oliver says these are exciting times in small cell cancer research and something, she hasn't seen in 40 years.
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