Acinic cell carcinoma survivor grateful for clinical trial

Keith Taggart noticed a lump the size of a pea in his left cheek in October 2014. He was also experiencing fatigue, weight loss, nausea and incontinence. His primary care physician wasn’t too concerned about the lump but referred him to an oral surgeon to have it removed and biopsied. Keith was diagnosed with acinic cell carcinoma of the salivary gland 10 days later. But he wasn’t especially worried. “I believed that any future tumors could be easily treated by extraction with local anesthesia, the same way they’d removed the lump for the biopsy,” Keith recalls. An oncologist near his home in  Oklahoma City scheduled him for oral surgery and seven weeks of radiation therapy. Coming to MD Anderson for acinic cell carcinoma treatment After his tumors came back four separate times,  Keith sought a second opinion at MD Anderson in January 2016.  “MD Anderson has an impeccable reputation for cancer treatment,” Keith says of his decision to travel here. “It’s light years ahead of everything in my state in terms of treatment and success rate.” Facing metastatic acinic cell carcinoma At MD Anderson, Keith met with head and neck surgeon Neil Gross, M.D., who was concerned with how quickly the cancer seemed to be spreading. Keith underwent a full-body  CT scan, which showed the cancer had metastasized to his lungs, liver, kidneys and lymphatic system. “It had grown out of control, and we needed to go in a different direction,” Keith says. He met with head and neck medical oncologist Renata Ferrarotto, M.D., who told him that chemotherapy might prolong his life for a little while.  “That was...