Pancreatic Cancer – The Nebraska Medical Center


It is typically very difficult discussing
the patients who have pancreatic cancer, although from the surgical point of view if we can
do the operation to remove the tumor then we do give the patients some chance of hope
for having a long-term survival more than five years, for example, even. So it is possible.
So we do have patients who are alive five, six, 10 years after diagnosis of pancreatic
cancer only because they were able to have the operation. So it’s important to discuss
with your doctor (you know) what you’re treatment options are. Unfortunately, once
it has spread, it typically implies only chemo therapy. Unfortunately the problem is that the majority
of the patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer already have tumors spread to other
organs, which then precludes them from having any sort of surgery and they go on to seek
chemo therapy. And as such then the prognosis is typically not very good. The only treatment
option that can result in any long-term survivorship is (when you detect it early) is surgery.
The surgery can only be performed, or is only worthwhile to be performed) when the tumor
has been confined to the pancreas. That, unfortunately, does not happen too often. But when it does
happen, then for most patients, that’s a very good option. So surgery can be complicated
either with a Whipple operation or removal of part of the pancreas. You know it, that the greatest risk factor
so far that we know about pancreatic cancer is smoking and so that it is in that people
can do to quit and that would definitely reduce their chances of pancreatic cancer. We also
know that obesity is also another important factor, as our genetics. Sometimes you can
do something about smoking, something about obesity; genetics is very difficult to anything
about. But other than that, we still don’t know much more regarding the cause of pancreatic
cancer. So there are certain life-style changes that people can do; one (of course) is stop
smoking, exercise and eat healthy. Those things will go a long way, not just with pancreatic
cancer but for overall well-being in general. There’s been a recent estimate in that pancreatic
cancer will be increasing greatly in the future partly because of the aging population, but
also because of the difficulty of obesity in the United States. So we do see, we will
probably expect to see an increase in the number of pancreatic cancers over the next
10 to 20 years. There are currently several things going under
investigation; the problem is that pancreatic cancer (in general) so typically strikes so
few patients, so few people, that screening the whole population does not become very
productive. So there are centers that are having screenings for people who have multiple
family members with pancreatic cancer. Then there is some worthwhile endeavor in screening,
but to be honest, it’s still under investigation (we don’t know exactly how long). Here at
the Med Center though, we are undergoing multiple areas of research in regards to early screening
and early detection of pancreatic cancer (which we have several research endeavors), one of
which we believe will be coming soon to help screen people with diabetes who may then develop
pancreatic cancer. Due to the unique characteristics of the Medical
Center’s practice in pancreatic cancer, as well as the bench science and basic science
component of done at UNMC as well as at the Eppley cancer center. We have one of the few
very coveted procedures/grants from the National Cancer Institute in Washington D.C. to study
pancreatic cancer. So it’s one of a handful of given to centers around the country and
we’re fortunate to have one of those. So we have a people coming interest in pancreatic
cancer and all aspects of that’s been funded by the government. There is always ongoing research and there’s
been some very important breakthroughs recently with the cost of pancreatic cancer, which
will hopefully translate into some meaningful treatments in the next several years. So I
think there’s still more to do. There are some early signs of some productive research
that’s been going on. So we will make strides with treating pancreatic cancer.

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