Sanford connects its initiatives for head, neck cancer clinical trial

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Profile Ketogenic Study will evaluate reduced-sugar diet in cancer therapy

Andrew Terrell, M.D.

Cancer cells thrive on sugar; naturally, reducing sugar intake could better equip the body to help fight off progression of the disease.

Sanford Health is using its weight-management system to investigate if a reduced-sugar nutrition plan can help the body better fight cancer and improve the effectiveness of treatment. As part of the multi-phase Profile Ketogenic Clinical Trial, Profile by Sanford and Sanford Research have developed a nutrition plan that could improve outcomes for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

Profile is a low-carbohydrate, low-fat system for weight management that was developed by Sanford physicians and researchers. It uses nutrition shakes, lean meats, vegetables and healthy fats to reduce sugar in the diet. The system has been proven to be effective for weight loss. Recent Sanford Research studies using a ketogenic, or reduced-sugar, nutrition plan in mouse models have shown promise for cancer therapy.

Led by Andrew Terrell, M.D., the clinical trial is currently enrolling 14 participants for phase 1. To be eligible, participants must be at least 18 years old and have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, which begins in the mouth, nose or throat.

“Cancer cells thrive on sugar; naturally, reducing sugar intake could better equip the body to help fight off progression of the disease,” said Terrell, who practices at Sanford Ear Nose and Throat Clinic in Sioux Falls. “The infrastructure of Sanford Health allows us to directly connect the advances of Profile by Sanford; Sanford Research; and the Sanford Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic to patient care through clinical trials like this one.”

With the support of a Profile coach and dietitian, participants in the group will follow the Profile system along with receiving standard cancer treatment therapy. They will keep a food journal, monitor blood glucose levels and meet weekly with their support team to make sure they are complying with the Profile system. Outcomes will be compared to patients who also received standard cancer treatment therapy but ate a non-regulated diet.

Tumor size and various metrics to measure quality of life will be analyzed between the two groups to determine the effectiveness of the ketogenic nutrition plan.

For more information or to enroll, call Sanford Clinical Research at (605) 328-1368.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. It is one of the largest health systems in the nation with 43 hospitals and nearly 250 clinics in nine states and three countries. Sanford Health’s 27,000 employees, including 1,400 physicians, make it the largest employer in the Dakotas. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have allowed for several initiatives, including global children's clinics, genomic medicine and specialized centers researching cures for type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. For more information, visit

About Profile by Sanford
Profile by Sanford is a comprehensive weight-management program designed by Sanford Health physicians and scientists as a simple, effective and sustainable solution. The program makes use of a Profile coach and offers integrated complementary technology to directly connect the coach and the member through their journey. With 25 locations currently open and operating in nine states, company plans call for having more than 150 locations nationwide by 2020. For more information, visit

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Tim Gerszewski
Sanford Health
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