[MOL] Exciting news about bone cancer... [00564] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Exciting news about bone cancer...



Curing Man and His Best Friend
Vet and Doc Collaborate, Improve Bone Cancer Treatment 
 
Russell Hawkins, diagnosed with bone cancer in his shoulder blade, underwent 
treatment studied extensively in dogs. (ABCNEWS.com)
    
Sept. 8 — Ross Wilkins and Stephen Withrow are doctors working together in 
the fight against bone cancer. 
     But their collaboration does not happen in the same hospital or research 
center — they can’t meet on the job because they work on different species. 
Still, their unusual partnership has led them to become leaders not only in 
helping their patients survive bone cancer with chemotherapy, but in 
preserving limbs that almost certainly would have been amputated in the past.
     Wilkins, an orthopedic surgeon, practices at a state-of-the-art human 
care facility, the Institute for Limb Preservation at St. Luke’s Presbyterian 
Hospital in Denver. Withrow, a veterinarian specializing in treating cancer 
in animals, practices 70 miles north of Denver in the world’s largest 
veterinary cancer center at Colorado State University. Wilkins began to tap 
into Withrow’s knowledge of animal treatment for a very good reason: bone 
cancer occurs in large dogs 10 times more frequently than it does in humans. 

Pioneering Techniques
Withrow helped pioneer a technique that makes bone grafts — a surgery in 
which a cadaver bone is transplanted into the affected area — more effective 
by using surgical cement to fill and strengthen the bone before it’s 
transplanted. Antibiotics are added as well to fight potential infections. 
Wilkins remembers when they discussed such a procedure over pizzas.
     “If you think about a bone, it’s a hollow tube. We felt that if we 
could fill that tube with something that’s hard and strong, you could put 
antibiotics in. That would protect the graft from infection,” he says. “We 
sort of started doing this in animals, and we started doing it in humans.”
     Withrow performed state-of-the-art surgery on Dakota, a black Labrador, 
to try to avoid amputation of his front leg. A day later, Dakota was out on 
the lawn, retrieving a ball. (ABCNEWS.com)
     Another technique developed for dogs by Withrow, with help from the 
National Cancer Institute, involves the use of sponges. Biodegradable sponges 
are soaked with chemotherapy agents designed to kill any remaining cancer 
cells. “There’s no vomiting. There’s no hair loss. There’s none of the 
common side-effects of chemo,” Withrow says.
     Chemotherapy is what saves a patient’s life — and Withrow’s dogs have 
helped teach many lessons on how it can be used effectively. Surgical care is 
what saves limbs — and through the testing of bone cement, antibiotics and 
ways to help the bone graft heal faster, the veterinary center has also made 
a contribution to human care in reducing complications. 
     There’s a lot of brainstorming left to do. But Wilkins and Withrow say 
they will continue to communicate with each other once a week in their 
ongoing collaboration.
     
 Bone Cancer Treatment Resources 
   If you’re looking for information on bone cancer treatments for humans, 
please contact:
     Dr. Ross Wilkins
     Institute for Limb Preservation
     1721 E. 19th Ave., Suite 102
     Denver, Colo. 80218
     1-800-262-5462
     www.limbpres.com/index.html
     
     If you’re looking for information on bone cancer treatments for animals, 
please contact:
     Dr. Stephen Withrow
     Colorado State University 
     Animal Cancer Center 
     300 West Drake Road
     Fort Collins, Colo. 80523 
     1-877-427-8838
     www.cancercure.colostate.edu/
      

 
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