Two tumors and a second chance at life

July 12, 2012 | by David Glick

Nazar Yeranosyan is thankful that City of Hope could treat his tumors. That’s tumors, plural — as in two separate cancerous tumors. It’s been a singularly tough diagnosis.

Photo of Dan Raz, left, and Nazar Yeranosyan Dan Raz, left, and Nazar Yeranosyan (Photo by p.cunningham)

Originally diagnosed with lung cancer, Yeranosyan, 53, soon found out that cancer was in his brain, too. Doctors at his local hospital said he had six months to live, and he sped to City of Hope. Despite the diagnosis, faith and confidence in his health-care team gave him hope.

Lung cancer can be difficult to fight. Survival rates for lung cancer are lower than those for most other cancers: About 16 percent of lung cancer patients survive for five years after diagnosis. And when it’s spread, like in Yeranosyan’s case, it can be even more challenging. Or is it?

According to his surgeon, Dan Raz, M.D., doctors can actually cure about a quarter of lung cancer patients whose cancer has spread to only one, isolated location. One big component is aggressively attacking and removing the tumor tissue. Another big part lies in the tumor itself. For some reason, the biology of certain patients’ tumors makes them more vulnerable to treatment. Scientists are trying to better understand lung cancer’s biology so they can find out in advance which tumors offer the best prognosis, and which are the most challenging.

After chemotherapy and radiation to shrink his tumors, Yeranosyan underwent successful surgery to remove the tumor in his brain. He later had another operation to remove the tumor on the upper right lobe of his lung. Thankful for his second chance at life, Yeranosyan is now spending quality time with his wife and kids.

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