Avera Medical Minute: Clinical trial in Pierre offers patients more options to fight cancer

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 10:55 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

If you ask Dr. Sreekanth Donepudi what get's him excited, it's helping patients fight cancer in Pierre. The latest in his arsenal, clinical trials offered right in his hometown.

"I think it's a milestone in cancer care when you can offer clinical trials to patients," said Dr. Donepudi.

Marlene Traversic is the first clinical trial patient in Pierre.

"Marlene had a very aggressive type of breast cancer, she had triple-negative breast cancer. We are looking at what other options are available for these patients so that we can prevent this cancer from coming back," said Donepudi.

This trial could help her body heal itself. It may be less toxic than chemotherapy.

"So what the immunotherapy does is it wakes up your immune system so that your cells are able to recognize the cancer as if foreign body and your own immune system is able to attack the cancer cells," said Donepudi.

Before the clinical trial in Pierre, Marlene would have had to commit to over 150 visits to Sioux Falls over a year. Dr. John Lee is the Avera Chief Medical Officer for Cancer research.

"Having us able to offer them throughout the region at each cancer center, as if they were coming to McKennan has a huge advantage for patients, so they can act have access to the most up and coming treatments," said Dr. Lee.

Dr. Lee's mother fought cancer and lived in a small midwest town. He understands the importance of care close to home.

"Really does is just allows us to be offering not only newest but a very high quality also to the patients of the region in a very similar manner," said Lee.

The six Avera cancer treatment centers work collectively as one.

"Just to be able to offer that and see if that will reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Yeah that's super exciting," said Donepudi," said Donepudi.

Offering clinical trials: Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and now Pierre.

“I’m hopeful, in the next five months we’ll have many more trials that we can offer patients,” said Donepudi.

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