Today's Health: UAMS drug study brings hope for cancer patients

    10:40 AM, Sep 27, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- An experimental treatment at UAMS could hold the key to saving a lot of women's lives.

    September is gynecological cancer awareness month. One of the most difficult types to treat can be ovarian cancer. That's because many times, women never know they have it, and it continues to grow.

    An experimental treatment at UAMS, however, could lead to new a new prognosis for countless patients. Jan Jupin is part of the study.

    She appears to be the picture of health. She not only eats right and works out regularly; she owns a Jazzercise studio in Little Rock. With a healthy family tree, she never expected the news she would get in January.

    "Because I was a healthy person, I ate right, and so I was not going to be affected. So it was a shock that I had ovarian cancer," Jupin recalls.

    After months of thinking something might be wrong, but dismissing the subtle symptoms, it was actually a workout that possibly saved her life

    "In January I was teaching a class and I was doing an abdominal routine and usually I tell my class 'Isn't this fantastic?' because when we're on the exercise bar our abs are so flat in the position we're in, and I'm looking at my abdominals, and I saw a lump," she says.
    That's when she decided to see her doctor.

    "With ultrasound testing we found out I had a couple masses, so I was referred to Dr. Burnett here at UAMS, and within two weeks I had surgery, started chemotherapy a couple weeks after that," she added.

    Jupin is also part of an experimental treatment, involving the cancer blocking drug Avastin. It's only FDA approved for patients whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body, but this trial could determine if it could also benefit others.

    "There was an era when every woman who received chemotherapy was admitted to the hospital," says UAMS Dr. Alexander Burnett. "There was no outpatient chemotherapy, and it was awful."

    Dr. Burnett is Jupin's oncologist. He says Avastin is showing great promise, and is possibly part of the reason, why on this day, he has great news.

    "Your latest scans I can say were completely negative, everything looks beautiful," said Dr. Burnett with a smile.

    Jupin will continue to undergo treatment with Avastin for a year and have regular checkups. In the meantime, she will remain an inspiration to others seeking health one rep at a time.

    "It's really funny because some will say I wasn't going to get up this morning to work out, but then I thought you might show up at class, and if you can go, if you can do it, then I have no excuse," Jupin says with a laugh.

    According to Dr. Burnett, when 75 percent of women decide they need to see a doctor, the cancer is already at stage three or four.

    The subtle symptoms women should be aware of include: a change in your bowels, pelvic pressure or pain, bloating, or getting full quickly when eating.

    When you catch it early, Dr. Burnett says the cure rate is very high.

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