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Study highlights treatment for pancreatic cancer

There could be some additional hope for Pennsylvania residents diagnosed early on with pancreatic cancer, according to a study released in June 2018 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. When patients with pancreatic cancer were given a four-drug combination known as folfirinox, they had significantly better results than patients receiving the traditional drug used for this treatment. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most notoriously difficult-to-treat cancers, especially as it is often discovered too late for surgery to be effective and after the malignancy has spread.

This treatment is designed for patients whose pancreatic cancer was discovered early enough for them to be treated with surgery and before the cancer had spread significantly. While about 20 percent of these patients were free of cancer five years later with the traditional drug, Gemzar, that number rose to 40 percent on the folfirinox treatments. In addition, around 66 percent of patients receiving folfirinox were still alive five years later, but only half of the Gemzar patients were. Doctors hailed the study as a major step forward.

There is no standard screening test for pancreatic cancer, so misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is common. Many patients do not experience symptoms, like weight loss, fatigue or abdominal pain, until after cancer has already spread to the extent that it is no longer treatable with surgery. There are around 55,000 people diagnosed each year in the U.S. with pancreatic cancer, out of about 330,000 cases each year around the world.

For many cancers, early detection can make a major difference in successful treatment. If a doctor missed detectable cancer during a screening, the cancer could grow significantly before the diagnosis is corrected, leading to worsened medical outcomes. A medical malpractice attorney can consult with people who have suffered due to a misdiagnosis or other medical mistake about the potential to seek compensation.

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