Parker Jensen Lawsuit Raises New Questions

Parker Jensen Lawsuit Raises New Questions

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John Daley ReportingA new lawsuit raises questions about Parker Jensen's diagnosis and treatment for the rare cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. Parker's parents are suing the state, Intermountain Health Care, several doctors and others who worked on his case. That legal battle no doubt will focus heavily on several key medical issues.

Parker Jensen's parents are taking on the medical establishment, but also the specific diagnosis and recommendations of Parker's original doctor at Primary Children's. But the treatment that doctor recommended is apparently the standard protocol for the disease Ewing's Sarcoma.

The key question in the Parker Jensen case all along has been whether a nodule found in his mouth was the rare cancer Ewing's sarcoma. His parents were unsure of the diagnosis and feared chemotherapy could be worse than the cancer. The lawsuit alleges doctors at Primary Children's failed to order additional tests to make an accurate diagnosis.

We went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute to speak with Dr. Randall Burt, the interim executive director. He does not know Parker or the Jensens and is not connected with the case.

Dr. Burt: "It usually is fatal, almost always fatal, untreated."

Ewings Sarcoma is an extremely aggressive cancer and that's why the standard protocol at all major cancer centers is also aggressive.

Dr. Randall Burt, Interim Executive Director, Huntsman Cancer Institute: "After a diagnosis of Ewings Sarcoma, either surgery or radiation therapy is instituted to treat the primary tumor. That's almost always followed by chemotherapy, which improves the outcome rather dramatically."

According to their lawsuit, there was a rift between the Jensens and their Primary Children's doctor over a cytogenetic, or molecular genetic test the Jensens wanted and believed would give them a definite answer.

Dr. Burt says the standard Ewing's diagnosis is made by looking at the cancer cells under the microscope.

Dr. Randall Burt: "Ewing Sarcoma is diagnosed by biopsy, so that the tissue from the biopsy can be looked at under the microscope to determine precisely if a tumor is present and to determine why type of tumor it is."

An attorney for the family yesterday told us the Parker Jensen is doing fine and showing no signs of cancer, but declined to discuss any treatment.

Again Dr. Burt has no connection with the Jensens or this case, but this lawsuit challenges established medical procedures. And if this case goes to trial we can expect plenty of scrutiny over the details of the diagnosis and recommended treatment of Ewing's sarcoma.

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