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Rapid Results Help Local Patients Fight Lung Cancer


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KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- It's terrifying enough to find out you have lung cancer. Then it may take months to know if chemotherapy is working. But a clinical trial way in Knoxville can speed up the process and save lives.

Connie Smith, of Knoxville, is in remission after a battle with advanced lung cancer. She took part in a clinical trial at UT Medical Center designed to find out faster than ever if her chemo was working.

"Why go through four months of chemo if the doctor can tell right off if the medicine is not working. He can change it," Connie says.

The trial, the only one of its kind in the world, put patients like Connie through a PET (Positron emission tomography) scan once a week for seven weeks, changing her chemo at one point to get better results.

The results showed quite a difference from the previous nine to 12 weeks to get that answer. The next step is to get the answer in a mere two weeks.

"This way, I can change from one to the other and come up with the right combination, the right drug, within a few weeks," says Dr. Wahid Hanna.

Traditional treatment involves checking the patient with a PET scan every four weeks. Any more than that and they're getting too much radiation.

But Dr. Hanna says using lower doses means he can do the test more often.

And Connie is grateful to be alive and lend a hand to other cancer patients through the clinical trial. "Anything we can do, I feel like to help anybody that's diagnosed with cancer. That's what we need to do."

PET scans are most often used to detect cancer and examine the effects of cancer therapy. The scans can be performed on the whole body or on the heart or brain. Patients receive a radioactive substance that helps doctors see images inside the body.

This study is going on at UT Medical Center. Dr. Hanna and his staff are even up for some awards in the national medical field due to this research.

If you'd like more information about this study, call the UT Cancer Institute at (865)-544-9773.

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