With a survival rate in the single digit percentages, pancreatic cancer is often considered among the most deadly forms of this disease. An estimated 49,000 people are diagnosed with it annually, many who present in later stages of the disease. For years researchers have been working on better screening procedures and treatments to improve care and survival rates, but few breakthroughs have been experienced.
That is beginning to change as people more readily realize the grim statistics surrounding pancreatic cancer. Doctors and researchers around the globe have been working hard on early detection tests that would give clinicians a leg up on diagnosing the disease in its earlier, more treatable stages. Breakthroughs are beginning to arise in detecting this disease. New treatment options are also being developed.
One case in point involves a relatively new procedure that targets a pancreatic cancer tumor at its source. The procedure involves the direct delivery of chemotherapy drugs to the tumor itself. Rather than stream chemo drugs into veins, the procedure uses a catheter inserted directly into the tumor itself.
At present, there are only two hospitals using this technique. One of them is Tampa’s Florida Hospital. Here doctors are finding they can dramatically increase chemotherapy doses to shrink pancreatic tumors without enhancing the side effect risks. The increase doses are seen as being especially beneficial in treating a disease that has heretofore been quite difficult to tackle.
People who are at risk for pancreatic cancer are urged to discuss this topic with their healthcare providers. Should the disease present, treatment options available may hinge on the stage and the particular case in question. Even so, it is best to explore all treatment possibilities and the benefits and risks they pose with a personal physician. How soon the new catheter procedure might be available elsewhere is unclear, but if it proves effective, it could turn out to be a major advance in the battle against pancreatic cancer.