Cancer patients in study to help find a possible cure

FRESNO, Calif.

Caretaker Catherine King found a lump in her breast, resulting in her being the one needing to be cared for.

"It was a fast-growing tumor so it's a good thing I caught it when I did catch it," King said.

Catherine undergoes chemotherapy at Kaiser Permanente in Northeast Fresno to try to prevent her cancer from re-occurring. When her doctors asked her to be part of the medical center's first phase-three oncology clinical trial, she gave it careful thought and then decided to take part in the study.

Technicians at Kaiser's oncology pharmacy mix the study drugs on site, feet away from patient rooms. The study looks at chemotherapy drugs that are already proven fighters against breast cancer. One of those drugs, Adriamycin, can have side effects from nausea to heart failure.

Doctors want to find out if taking out Adriamycin from a patient's treatment, would have the same effectiveness against the cancer, but without side effects.

"Do we actually need it? Can we avoid having to have heart problems in these young women? Do we cure them as much? So the question is do we cure them as much, by removing a drug?" asked Kaiser Oncologist Dr. Brandy Box-Noriega.

Box-Noriega wears a button that expresses her straightforward outlook on the disease she's fighting alongside her patients. She says Kaiser's clinical trial is part of a nationwide study and is very important. Valley patients will also be included in their data.

"We need to be represented in trials to make sure that the information they get in a trial is representative of our patients," Box-Noriega said.

For King, each of her sessions in chemotherapy treatment is a step closer to a better weapon against breast cancer and ultimately helping her to find a cure.

"I'm very lucky," King said.

Patients, doctors and researchers are all focused on the same goal. They hope to wipe the disease that changes so many lives.

Kaiser is continuing to enroll patients in its clinical trial on breast cancer drugs, and patients are screened to meet certain criteria. Patients will have their progress followed after their treatment.

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