Martin Ramis, Stage 4 Lung Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers is committed to offering groundbreaking research to its patients. In this Research Spotlight, learn how Martin’s cancer journey is helping keep his cancer at bay while he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.

Martin Ramis is a loving father and grandfather, cherishes his country and survived the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion in the early 1960s.

The 86-year old is also a cancer survivor.

Martin was diagnosed with stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer in 2012. Following skin cancer, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in both men and women. An estimated 2,080 Nevadans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year alone.

Additionally, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, making up 25 percent of all cancer deaths. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

In recent years, the rate of lung cancer diagnoses has decreased due to more people quitting smoking. However, Martin was never a smoker, but worked in the casino industry for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, Martin’s lung cancer diagnosis is a stark reminder of the dangers of secondhand smoke.

According to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke causes approximately 7,330 deaths from lung cancer each year. There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and even short-term exposure can potentially increase risk.

Alongside his cancer diagnosis, Martin also had a malignant pericardial effusion (MPE), a condition in which cancer causes extra fluid to collect inside the sac around the heart, resulting in pressure on the heart and blood being prohibited from pumping normally. MPEs are most often caused by lung cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, lymphoma and leukemia.

Martin underwent surgery for the MPE and started chemotherapy. The treatment was successful and he was in remission until 2016. Martin then had cardiac complications, and his doctors halted all treatment.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers (Comprehensive) had a groundbreaking clinical trial available with UCLA for the drug Nivolumab. Dr. Anthony Nguyen, Martin’s medical oncologist at Comprehensive, was working to enroll Martin on the new immunotherapy to help beat his cancer. The trial suddenly closed, and Martin lost hope he would achieve remission status.

However, the drug received FDA approval for non-small cell lung cancer. Martin has been on the treatment ever since, and says he feels great. The treatment is helping keep his cancer at bay while he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren.