Las Vegas woman first in country to receive 'revolutionary' bladder cancer treatment

Las Vegas woman first in the U.S. to recieve revolutionary treatment for bladder cancer [Nathan O'Neal - KSNV - 5-20-16].jpg

A groundbreaking bladder cancer treatment was approved by the FDA this week, generating new hope for the 76,000 Americans diagnosed with the disease every year.

The first patient to receive the commercial treatment lives in Las Vegas.

Navy Veteran Carole Kuntz has been battling bladder cancer for five years, undergoing surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy.

"They called me and told me and I told everybody 'You better come in here, I have something to tell you - you won't believe it! I said, it's happening so fast, it's wonderful'," said Kuntz.

The newly approved drug, Tecentriq, boosts the immune system to target cancer cells rather than the shotgun approach of chemotherapy which attacks all cells. It's a drug that is three times more powerful than chemotherapy.

Tecentriq is the first new drug to treat bladder cancer since the 1990s.

"It's going to make chemotherapy look like a dinosaur," said Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang of the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada.

"We're cautiously optimistic that in some patients, the cancer will stay away," said Vogelzang.

Many doctors believe this new treatment will revolutionize the way bladder cancer is treated and save thousands of lives.

"Most people think of cancer treatment as causing severe nausea and vomiting and hair loss [Tecentriq] doesn't cause these side effects," said pharmacist Brad Rassuchine. "They stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer itself."

As for Kuntz, her will to live is seeded in a positive attitude and a great sense of humor.

"I'm able to talk to myself and say 'hey the sun is shining and you woke up on this side of the dirt, so why not enjoy the day?" she said.

This new drug breathes new hope into Kuntz's life - all at the cost of an hour-long treatment she will get every three weeks.

"Now you wait... and you know sometimes that's the hard part," said Kuntz, who is optimistic now she will get to see her young granddaughter grow up.

"Hopefully, it goes just as well as it did in the test and I'll be rid of this," she said.

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