Clinical Trial Drugs Thwart Patient’s Thyroid Cancer
Before she enrolled in a UAMS clinical trial, Minnie Storment, 68, of Plainview, thought she had received every possible treatment for her thyroid cancer.
Discovered at a late stage in 1996, Storment’s cancer never responded to treatments that work in most people, and over the years it spread, attacking her bones, liv
er and lungs.
Thyroid cancer is usually cured by removing the cancerous thyroid and ingesting radioactive iodine, which is only absorbed by thyroid tissue. After a third unsuccessful radioactive iodine treatment by an outside oncologist, Storment was sent to a cancer center in another state. She said she was sent home and later notified by the cancer center that she wasn’t eligible for treatments.
Storment, who enjoys hunting, fishing and gardening, and who raised cattle, sold cosmetics and was a Plainview-Rover School District housekeeper, said the cancer finally subdued her.
“I was in a lot of pain, and I was really down in my hips,” said Storment, who had to sell the cattle and retire from her school job about three years ago. “My doctor would prescribe me drugs that worked for awhile and then they quit working. She finally came up against a brick wall and sent me to UAMS.”
At UAMS, Storment saw Donald Bodenner, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Thyroid Center and chief of endocrine oncology. Bodenner has received numerous awards for his patient care, teaching and research, and he has contributed to numerous publications, including the American Journal of Medicine.
After trying other therapies that also failed, Bodenner was able to enroll Storment in a clinical trial, making new drugs available to her that haven’t yet been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. After only three months, Storment’s cancer had stopped spreading and was even diminishing.
The experimental drugs interrupt the processes within cells that essentially turn on cancer genes.
“The results look very promising,” Bodenner said. “It’s a very exciting time in the treatment of thyroid cancer.”
The drugs are taken orally and have had few side effects; patients don’t lose their hair, and they don’t usually get sick. Storment had an early bout with nausea, but Bodenner adjusted her dosage to reduce that side effect.
“I’m feeling much better,” said Storment. “I don’t have near as much pain and I have more energy. Dr. Bodenner is really working hard to help me, and I’m glad he’s my doctor.”