Experimental cancer treatment offers hope at University of Colorado Hospital

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DENVER -- He was given no chance to survive his cancer, and doctors were talking about putting him in hospice care.

But only a year later, 76-year-old Bobby Nugent from Colorado Springs is making a miraculous recovery. It's been made possible by an experimental treatment at the University of Colorado Hospital.

By the time Nugent was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer it was too late, because it had  already spread to his blood, lungs and liver.

"You have probably a year maybe less,  he said doctors told him.

But after one year, his oncologist shows the Vietnam veteran's before and after MRI images of his once spreading cancer now disappearing.

"I was prepared to die,” he said.

Doctors are treating Bobby with experimental immunotherapy,  fighting his cancer with his own immune system.

"I said 'Hey what the hell if I don't do something I'm a dead man,'" Nugent shrugged.

"If it wasn't for this clinical trial we could only recommend hospice care for him,” said Dr. Elaine Lam, University of Colorado Hospital Oncology specialist.

Every two weeks Bobby is infused with a drug called Nivolumab, trade named Opdivo.

"Those of us who treat cancer every day,” said Dr. Lam, “this is what we want for our patients.”
The last drug approved for bladder cancer was more than 30 years ago and Bobby couldn't tolerate chemo, so his options ran out.

The drug is approved for use with other types of cancer, but not the kind of bladder cancer Nugent has.

"Compared to what we've had to work with in the past which was chemotherapy only really for metastatic bladder cancer this is a huge step,” said Dr. Lam.

"This place is wonderful," Nugent said with a smile as he sat in the hospital lobby.

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