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Expert Analysis Highlights:
Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most difficult to treat and deadliest forms of cancer. This blog highlights the value of an aggressive approach that combines preoperative proton radiation with chemotherapy followed by an aggressive resection known as a “Whipple” procedure. For selected patients who present with the disease still localized within the pancreas, this approach represents the best chance for cure.
The radiation and surgery components of treatment for pancreatic cancer are highly complex. The video describes using a highly specialized form of radiation called proton therapy. Proton radiation differs from conventional X-ray radiation in the way the radiation dose is deposited. With proton radiation, the dose increases to a peak and then rapidly falls off. The goal of the protocol study described is to uses these physical properties of protons to limit the dose to the very sensitive normal structures just adjacent to pancreatic tumors. These structures include the liver, stomach, and small intestine.
The surgery for localized pancreatic cancer is equally complex. Studies have clearly indicated that these types of complex operations are best handled by experienced surgeons. Data indicate that rates of postoperative mortality are directly related to the surgical volume of the treatment team and medical facility. Therefore, it is my recommendation that patients with pancreatic cancer seek out major institutions of excellence for their treatment.