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New Treatment Gives Hope to Pancreatic Cancer Patients

New Treatment Gives Hope to Pancreatic Cancer Patients

By    |   Monday, 23 December 2019 10:05 AM

British researchers have developed an exciting one-blast radiotherapy treatment that may offer new hope to pancreatic cancer patients given just months to live. Using a portable machine, surgeons deliver intense, targeted cancer-killing radiation while patients are having their tumors removed.

So far 11 patients have been successfully treated at University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, the only facility in the UK with the high-tech equipment since 2017.  So far, not one of them has seen their tumors grow back in the targeted area.

Arjun Takhar, one of the surgeons using this technique, explains that since pancreatic cancer often spreads to other organs and can encroach on major blood vessels, it's often difficult to remove tumors without leaving small cancer cells behind. 

"Using intraoperative radiotherapy, we can mop up leftover cancer cells," he says.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1.6% of Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetimes. More than 55,000 new cases were diagnosed last year, the institute estimates.

"And the numbers are increasing every year," noted Palm Beach-based radiation oncologist Dr. Jerome Spunberg, tells Newsmax. "We don't know the cause, but as we are living longer as a population, and since pancreatic cancer is associated with aging, we are seeing more cases."

Beloved "Jeopardy!" Host Alex Trebek was diagnosed with deadly stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the same disease that claimed the lives of actors Michael Landon and Patrick Swayze.

Although pancreatic cancer makes up just 3% of cancers in the U.S., it accounts for 7% of deaths from cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Just 8.5% survived five years after diagnosis in the time period between 2008 and 2014 according to the NCI.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk of pancreatic cancer increases with age, with almost 70% of cancer patients being 65 and older.

If pancreatic cancer travels to other organs such as the stomach, liver and blood vessels, experts say it is usually considered too difficult to remove. Patients are offered chemotherapy which can halt tumor growth and buy them some time, about 18 months. 

But with the one-blast procedure, surgeons believe that it may be possible to remove pancreatic tumors close to blood vessels and to stop them from growing back in that area.

"We have shown that this approach is safe, we can get patients home and it could have a much longer-lasting effect on their survival," says Takhar.

Dr. Herman Kattlove, an oncologist from Los Angeles, and former spokesman for the American Cancer Society, tells Newsmax that this innovate procedure "looks like a worthwhile treatment."

"But of course, we would need to know how these patients do over time," he says. "Also, this is for patients with localized disease which is not all that common in pancreatic cancer. But even so, survival statistics for this disease are so grim that trying anything new is worthwhile trying as long as the side effects are manageable."

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British researchers have developed an exciting one-blast radiotherapy treatment that may offer new hope to pancreatic cancer patients given just months to live.
treatment, pancreatic, cancer
Monday, 23 December 2019 10:05 AM
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