Apr 20 2006
Ross Wilkins and Stephen Withrow are doctors working together in the fight against bone cancer. Their goals are the same. Their patients are not.
Dr. Wilkins is one of the world's best-respected orthopedic surgeons at The Denver Clinic for Extremities at Risk at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center. His patients are people.
Dr. Withrow practices in the world's largest veterinary cancer center at Colorado State University. His patients are dogs.
Historically, children with bone cancer in their arms or legs faced amputation and, 95% of the time, death. Now, thanks to the unlikely collaboration of human and veterinary medicine, the odds have been reversed to a cure rate of over 90%, usually with the limb intact.
The team at The Denver Clinic established advanced diagnostic criteria and pre-operative, intra-arterial chemotherapy protocols that have dramatically increased success rates for these children. Wilkins, a world leader in reversing the odds for patients with osteosarcoma, will tell you that his veterinarian friend Stephen Withrow deserves a lot of the credit.
Wilkins tapped into Withrow's knowledge for good reason - bone cancer occurs in large dogs 10 times more frequently than in humans. Working together, the two doctors developed revolutionary "limb-sparing" surgical procedures now used worldwide on animals and humans; they pioneered surgical, chemotherapy, and radiation protocols that are shared daily with physicians around the world; and they developed unique biodegradable chemotherapy "sponges" to combat osteosarcoma at the site of the tumor and aid post-operative chemotherapy and radiation.