Promising drug trials and treatments for cancer patients in Southwest Florida

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
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Doctors in Southwest Florida are involved in clinical trials that could advance cancer drugs and help patients live longer.

The cure for cancer will never be a single event but rather a series of milestones. These improvements in treatment get patients one step closer to living cancer-free forever.

The Florida Cancer Specialists research division is the largest community-based clinical trial organization in the nation. And it is conducting studies in Southwest Florida. Dr. Frank Rodriguez is an oncologist.

“We have, at this point, probably 30 to 50 clinical trials that are available to our patients here in Lee County,” Dr. Rodriguez said. 

Dr. Rodriguez sees hope in these new treatments, including a pill aimed at non-small cell lung cancer. “Tagrisso is a tablet that is effective in patients who have a particular marker in their tumor. So it’s a particular type of lung cancer. So they have their surgery, the surgery, gets rid of the cancer, they get chemotherapy,” said Rodriguez.

“And then after that, they go on this pill for a year. And those patients that go on the pill for a year have a better chance of being cancer-free,” the doctor said.

Even more recent are the immunotherapy drugs administered via IV. They locate cancer cells and direct the body to kill them. Florida Cancer Specialists is using the recently approved medication to treat its patients.

This adds a new layer of treatment not available until now. “So patients who were diagnosed with lung cancer, who were able to have a surgery,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “And then after surgery may get chemotherapy. And then beyond that, they get this immunotherapy, which really starts to move the goalposts.”

Immunotherapy infusions are given to patients every two to three weeks.

The growing number of tools available to doctors saves lives and improves the quality of life for patients. “We follow them with scans. And it’s amazing. Their cancers remain in remission, which is something that we never I never saw before,” Dr. Rodriguez told WINK News.

These next-generation drugs and treatments are extremely specific to which types of cancer they can treat. But, they are a part of a larger and entirely new line of therapies that are changing the course of cancer and its research.

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