CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Local doctors are among the first in the country to test a potential new therapy to fight cancer that could change outcomes in ways never possible -- until now.
"What they described to me was, if we have to do surgery, which would be a last resort, there's a very good likelihood you may not be able to speak again," said throat cancer survivor Tony Duggan.
After a diagnosis four years ago, Duggan says he is one of the lucky ones. Not only now is he cancer-free, but he's avoided some extensive surgeries to have to rebuild his tongue to be able to speak again or to eat solid food again.
But now, something new being studied by Dr. Trisha Wise-Draper and Dr. Alice Tang at the UC Cancer Institute could help many others with head and neck cancer reduce these odds too.
"It looks like a Band-Aid, but it's actually a nanoparticle patch," said Dr. Wise-Draper. "It holds a chemo-therapeutic in it called cisplatin, which is something we commonly give to head and neck cancer patients through the IV...The Band-Aid will sit on top of the tumor and then the cisplatin will be absorbed into the tumor directly."
To know that the patch is working, Dr. Tang the team will do photo documentation with photography, CT scanning and specific imaging to take precise measurements.
The patch is designed to be used at several office visits prior to surgery. It's engineered so that it stays in place for a few minutes, and then you take it off.
The really amazing part about this patch, however, might be that, as they see it shrink, it could really alter what they need to do in surgery. This means rather than removing a large area that could alter the face, a smaller one might be able to be taken, which could change a patient's life.
"We'd have to take less tissue than we would need to, and hopefully, in the future, if this is successful, it may even shrink it and cure it," said Dr. Tang.
What's more is that while initial trials are for those with head and neck cancer, the patch may be able to be applied to other areas in the future.
Duggan couldn't be more thrilled with any new research in the works.
"I tell people this all the time, and it may sound silly, but I think getting cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me because it allows my wife and I to do more things for the community. I'm in a better spot from a human-being perspective today I ever was, so for that I am thankful," he said.
This therapy is now being studied only at three sites in the country: two in Texas and one at UC where enrollment is now open.