Baptist Health Lung Cancer Trial Showing Improvement for Jacksonville Resident

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After almost five months of chemotherapy and radiation, the news was not good for Ken Cooper. His lung cancer was growing and he was running out of options.

After almost five months of chemotherapy and radiation, the news was not good for Ken Cooper. His lung cancer was growing and he was running out of options.

But his hematologist oncologist, Troy H. Guthrie, Jr., MD, had a new lung cancer research trial starting and Cooper was a perfect candidate. His cancer had spread from his lungs to his lymph nodes and right chest wall.

One of the first in the international immunotherapy cancer trial, Cooper of Jacksonville was ready to start the infusions of nivolumab, which has previously shown benefits in people with melanoma. Now five months later as the twice a month infusions continue at Baptist Oncology Specialists, Cooper’s cancer has shrunk more than half in size and is no longer metabolically active, according to Dr. Guthrie.

Based on early positive results of the trial at locations throughout the world, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of nivolumab, also known as Opdivo, to treat patients with metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.

“This drug enables the body’s immune system to recognize the cancer as foreign and attacks it,” said Dr. Guthrie, who along with medical oncologist Robert A. Zaiden, MD, both with Baptist Oncology Specialists, is involved in the trial, the only location in Northeast Florida. “This is a major development. For a significant portion of patients, almost 40,000 a year, this might be a potential new drug.”

Cooper, who has been involved in prison ministries for more than 25 years, believes faith and nivolumab are why he has seen positive results.

“It’s amazing really,” Cooper said. “I believe particularly with a disease like cancer that if you remain positive and expect to get well, your chances are much better than if you give up. I also believe in the body healing itself and wanted to see what this immunotherapy could do.”

Cooper, who is still involved in a housing ministry that provides rehabilitation for men who have been in prison, has remained active including ministering in prison every month. “God has more work for me to do. He’s using faith and this drug to empower me to do more,” Cooper said.

While this trial is closed for new participants, Baptist has other cancer trials, including for lung cancer, which are accepting patients. For more information, contact Baptist Oncology Specialists at 904.202.7300.


About Baptist Health
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system in Northeast Florida comprised of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; Baptist Clay Medical Campus and Wolfson Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status for excellence in patient care. Baptist Health includes the area’s only dedicated heart hospital; cancer centers; orthopedic institute; women’s services; neurological institute, including comprehensive neurosurgical services, a comprehensive stroke center and two primary stroke centers; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; outpatient facilities; urgent care services; and primary and specialty care physicians’ offices throughout Northeast Florida. For more details, visit For information on Wolfson Children’s Hospital, visit

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Deborah Circelli
Baptist Health
+1 (904) 202-4916
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