Pancreatic cancer is the world’s toughest cancer. The internet is not your friend when searching for statistics about survivability, but at Methodist Health System, we’re beating the odds. November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month when the country shines a spotlight on this disease, and what’s being done to fight it. We have patients who have long past the five-year mark, which is a key bench mark in cancer survival.The statistics for pancreatic cancer paint a grim picture. While it does not rank as one of the most common types of cancer, it is the third leading cause of cancer-related death and is projected to become the second leading cause around the year 2020, according to the American Cancer Socieyt. Pancreatic cancer takes 91 percent of its victims within five years and kills more people than breast cancer in the United States.
Enough bad news, let’s talk about the fight against it.
Tools in the Fight
Thanks to increased CT imaging, more pancreatic cancers are being detected earlier. That early detection leads to improved survival rates because tumors can be caught at a smaller, more treatable stage. In addition, enhanced radiation and surgical techniques, along with more effective chemotherapy, are credited with improving survival rates.
Surgery is still the gold standard for pancreatic cancer treatment; however, many tumors do not qualify for surgery because of their size or placement. The combination of chemo and radiation can help shrink tumors to an operable size, and advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques available at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, enable surgeons to reach and remove tumors that may involve blood vessels, or other delicate structures. Our surgeons perform the Whipple procedure, which removes parts of the pancreas, small intestine, gallbladder, and bile duct, is performed robotically, helping patients recover much quicker.
The treatment of pancreatic cancer requires the coordination of a well-trained multidisciplinary team of physicians. Methodist Dallas patients have access to one of the best teams of physicians in the nation, as well as a nurse navigator who explains the prognosis and treatment plan, and counsels the patient and family throughout the process.
A Winning Team Approach
Our hospital was the first in the nation certified by the Joint Commission for pancreatic cancer and surgery. In 2016, Methodist Dallas treated 67 pancreatic cancer patients, making it one of the highest volume centers for pancreatic cancer care in North Texas. Receiving treatment at a high volume center like Methodist Dallas that offers expertise, technology, experience, and excellent patient care also improves patient outcomes.
On Nov. 1, Methodist Dallas held its annual pancreatic cancer survivors celebration, which was attended by 5- 6- and even 11-year survivors and their families. Seeing these survivors provides a reminder that there is hope. In addition to improvements in survival rates, people with a family history of pancreatic cancer may opt for genetic testing that may increase their chances of having the disease diagnosed before it becomes a threat.
The Methodist Digestive Institute at Methodist Dallas has partnered with the national Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to help raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer at its annual PurpleStride 5K Walk/Run slated for November 11, at Klyde Warren Park. To sign-up for the event, or for more information about it, click here. To learn more about the Pancreas Program at Methodist Dallas, call 214-933-6601 or click here.