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Pancreatic cancer treatment shows promise

A four-drug combination could help pancreatic cancer patients in New York and elsewhere live longer according to a new study. Experts say the research represents the biggest advancement in the treatment of the disease in 25 years.

Researchers at the Cancer Institute of Lorraine in France found that a chemotherapy treatment called folfirinox was significantly more effective in treating pancreatic cancer patients than the current standard drug, which is called Gemzar. Nearly 40 percent of patients given folfirinox were disease-free an average of three years after treatment. In comparison, only 20 percent of patients who received Gemzar were disease-free after the same period of time. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of folfirinox patients were still living compared with just 50 percent of Gemzar patients. Experts say the results of the study, which involved nearly 500 participants, are “practice-changing.” They also say folfirinox will now likely become the standard of care for early-stage pancreatic cancer patients. Folfirinox is already the top treatment for late-stage patients.

Pancreatic cancer is rare, and symptoms of the disease frequently do not appear until it has spread. Symptoms include weight loss, abdominal pain and fatigue. Approximately 55,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Unfortunately, the majority of patients die within one year of diagnosis. Around 6 percent live for five years. Only 15 percent of cases are diagnosed early enough to qualify for surgery. These early-stage patients could now also be treated with folfirinox.

In some circumstances, doctors who fail to diagnose pancreatic cancer could be sued for medical malpractice. An attorney may review a patient’s case to determine if a doctor neglected to administer the medical standard of care. If so, the patient might be able to receive a financial settlement for damages.

Source: ABC News, “Study finds rare gain for tough-to-treat pancreatic cancer,” Lindsey Tanner, June 4, 2018 s

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