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New hope for pancreatic cancer patients

Posted: 1:18 PM, Apr 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-02 16:18:50-04

A new approach to treating pancreatic cancer at the Mayo Clinic is defying odds.

Some patients once given less than two years to live are now surviving five years and beyond.

Dr. Mark Truty says the key is giving patients personalized chemotherapy to kill pancreatic tumors, then using PET scans to make sure the tumor is destroyed before finally surgically removing it.

The American Cancer Society estimates 56,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States this year.

A third of those patients are often told their cancer is inoperable because even though the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, the tumor has grown into critical veins and arteries surrounding the pancreas.

Mayo Clinic doctors say it’s those patients who might benefit.

“It’s all about timing,” Dr. Truty says. “Putting things together, knowing when to stop chemotherapy, moving on to the next step.”

The strategy could soon be utilized in cancer centers around the country.