Health Watch: A new approach to killing cancer

David Cade, also known as "Papa" to his family can either build it, fix it or figure it out.

"I love to just tear stuff up and see what makes it work," Cade says.

But there wasn't anything in his tool box that could repair what was wrong with him last year.

"It was just like life was leaving me," he says.

Dawn Cade, his wife, says, "He just went to bed. So I knew he was really sick."

In just hours of arriving at the hospital, he was given the news - it was leukemia. Cade was told he had two weeks to two months to live.

Diagnosed with AML or Acute Myeloid Leukemia, doctors said at 71, David wouldn't survive traditional high-intensive chemotherapy.

"I basically told my kids goodbye, my grandkids goodbye," Cade says.

Oncologist Dan Pollyea did have one option - an FDA-approved clinical trial testing a low dose chemo combined with the pill Venetoclax, a drug that targets leukemia stem cells.

"We've never seen a drug work like this, to target any type of cancer cell, let alone a stem cell," Pollyea says.

The drug kills a protein called BCL 2. This protein feeds the leukemia stem cells when it dies, so does the stem cell.

"This is a completely new way to kill a cancer," says Pollyea.

Before Venetoclax, only a minority of older patients would respond to their therapies. With this new treatment, over 70% achieve a remission.

Cade received the treatment. Eight days later...

"He says we can't find it. It's not in your body," Cade says.

Now more than a year out, doctors still can't find a trace of the cancer.

"I'm so blessed, I've been blessed all my life, but this is truly a blessing," Cade says.
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