Barry Dixon

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Igor Astsaturov MD, PhD

Neuroendocrine Carcinoma Patient Stories

Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Liver
Barry Dixon

Barry and his medical oncologist, Igor Astsaturov, MD, PhD

In September 2009, Barry Dixon was living and working in South Carolina with his fiancé and their son, Robert Phillip. As a maintenance technician for an apartment management firm, Barry performed a lot of physical labor. One day, while helping his cousin move, Barry thought he pulled something in his abdominal area. It caused more pain than he was used to. He went to the doctor on a Friday, who ordered further testing for the following Monday. But over the weekend, the pain became unbearable and Barry was admitted to the Emergency Room at his local hospital where he learned he had a tumor in his liver.

"I had been treated for testicular cancer 13 years earlier when I was 32 so I wasn't completely shocked by the word cancer. But I really couldn't believe I was dealing with it again," shared Barry, who was 45 at the time. "I went for check-ups religiously, checking my PSA every year."

It was time to move home to be close to Fox Chase Cancer Center.

After further testing and evaluation, Barry was diagnosed with stage IV neuroendocrine carcinoma with metastases to his liver. Barry was referred to a local oncologist in South Carolina where he received standard chemotherapy for eight months. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of his doctor, the treatment wasn’t working. At that moment, Barry decided it was time to move closer to his home town in New Jersey. 

“My fiancé and my mom got together and started looking for alternatives,” shared Barry, who was originally from Trenton, New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. “They wanted to see if they could find a place that specialized in treating his rare cancer. They called Fox Chase, which was one of the top cancer centers in the country." When Barry and his family arrived at Fox Chase Cancer Center in the summer 2010, they met Igor Astsaturov, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma. Due to the advanced stage of his disease, Barry was not a candidate for surgery. Dr. Astsaturov proposed to test an experimental therapy based on some common features of neuroendocrine tumors he was studying in the laboratory. Fortunately, at that time a clinical was open at Fox Chase with a new drug acting on the mechanism thought to be important for neuroendocrine tumors. Dr. Astsaturov suggested this clinical trial and Barry enrolled in the summer of 2010 – and he’s been on it ever since.

Barry Dixon

Barry and Holly

"I feel so fortunate to have met Dr. Igor and everyone at Fox Chase."

"I feel so fortunate to have met Dr. Igor and everyone at Fox Chase,” said Barry. "I really owe my life to them for finding a treatment that worked. The CRU (clinical research unit) nurses are just amazing." He noted that while his tumor was progressing, he dropped from 242 to 168 pounds. The first improvement he noticed after beginning his new treatment at Fox Chase was that he was able to put on weight and regain strength. For his second year on the trial, Barry’s tumor shrank by more than a third.

Due to his treatment schedule, Barry hasn't been able to return to work but keeps busy caring for his son, Robert Phillip. He goes to Fox Chase every three weeks for three-day treatments. When he’s feeling good, Barry enjoys camping and doing every day chores. "I thank God we came to Fox Chase. I am so grateful to be living my life," he said. Turns out, his mom is too. "She made a big deal about having me back at home," laughed Barry.

"Dr. Igor is the best. I owe my life to him."

"Dr. Igor is a very, very good doctor. I am so glad I met him," shared Barry. "He is extremely caring and in tune with what he does. I recommend Dr. Igor to anyone who has cancer. He's the best. What can I say? I owe my life to him."