Ruben Solis, Stage IV Laryngeal Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers is committed to offering groundbreaking research to its patients. In this Research Spotlight, learn how Ruben, was selected as the first in the world to receive a brand new clinical trial at Comprehensive Cancer.

In many ways, Ruben Solis is a typical 54-year-old living in Las Vegas. He’s a longtime hospitality worker and father of two grown children.

He is also the first in the world on a brand-new clinical trial for head and neck cancer taking place right here in Southern Nevada at Comprehensive Cancer Centers (Comprehensive).

In early 2020, Ruben was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, affecting his larynx. According to the American Cancer Society, the rate of new cases of laryngeal cancer is declining yet an estimated 12,620 cases will be diagnosed in 2021. Additionally, an estimated 3,770 people will die from laryngeal cancer this year alone.

In most cases, people diagnosed with laryngeal cancer are 55 or older, and it is rarer in those younger than 55. Laryngeal cancer is more common in men than in women.

After diagnosis, Ruben started standard treatment of radiation and chemotherapy. Six months later, Ruben’s cancer had quickly metastasized, or spread to other parts of his body. The tumor in Ruben’s neck had grown so large that it was affecting his ability to talk and breathe.

To help open his airways, Ruben was forced to undergo an emergency tracheotomy, a procedure which consists of making an incision on the front of the neck and opening a direct airway to the trachea. His cancer had progressed to Stage 4, and he was no longer able to maintain a chemotherapy regimen. Ruben began to lose hope he would be able to talk or breathe normally again.

In February 2021, a new clinical trial at Comprehensive became available to patients with head and neck cancer. The treatment involves the drugs Enoblituzumab and Retifanlimab as a new form of immunotherapy, which boosts the body’s immune system to combat harmful cancer cells. Dr. Anthony Nguyen, Ruben’s oncologist at Comprehensive, deemed Ruben a candidate for the trial and he began the groundbreaking treatment.

Ruben is the first in the world, or “global initiator,” to participate in the trial, and after undergoing three infusions of the treatment, the tumors are shrinking, and his health is greatly improving.

Recently, he has been able to start speaking better and enjoy spending time with his wife and children. Ruben’s participation as the first in the world on this clinical trial will allow future patients to also receive the treatment, potentially saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives across the globe.

 

Comprehensive Cancer Centers has partnered with some of the world’s most recognizable research and cancer-fighting organizations including The US Oncology Network, UCLA TRIO-US, USC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and leading pharmaceutical companies to offer groundbreaking research to its patients. The practice participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II and Phase III clinical research studies each year and has played a role in developing more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies.