Smart Treatment Approaches for Pancreatic Cancer

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Pancreatic cancer rarely presents with obvious symptoms and the prognosis is usually bleak. On this episode of Patient Power sponsored by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) learn more about preventative measures, treatment approaches and clinical trials helping patients with pancreatic cancer. Joining the discussion is Dr. Sunil Hingorani, an expert and researcher on the topic. Dr. Hingorani is Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Clinic at the SCCA and runs a research laboratory dedicated to uncovering mechanisms of pancreatic cancer formation and developing new early detection and treatment strategies. Dr. Hingorani led the development of the first mouse model of pancreatic cancer—a study of the animal cancer, which mimics the deadly disease in humans that could lead to earlier detection, better therapies and improved rates of survival. Dr. Hingorani shares his optimism for a disease that touched him personally.

Jeffrey Ross, 6 year survivor and active PanCAN volunteer joins Dr. Hingorani to share his story. Jeffrey was always physical and proactive about his health. One day, while working, his tool belt hit him in the abdomen and caused serious pain, so severe, he knew something was very wrong. He immediately called his general practitioner and scheduled an appointment for the next day. A blood test from that appointment revealed his organs were not functioning correctly. In July of 2003, Jeff not only received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he also underwent the Whipple procedure. Miraculously, he is doing well and offers this advice patients who might being going through something similar: “When you are up against something deadly that is potentially going to take you out, you need to manage your own healthcare. You need to have someone with you at every single appointment, the first time someone tells you you have cancer, you will not hear another word the doctor says.”

Hear more from Dr. Hingorani about smart treatment approaches for a disease plaguing over 40,000 people a year. Why is this disease so difficult to diagnose? What are the options? Will a multi-disciplinary team help? Find out from an expert and inspiring patient in this informative Patient Power program.

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Andrew Schorr:

We're live on Patient Power. You know, each year nearly 40,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is a scary diagnosis. We had it in my family, and I know all too well the majority of those people, as you know the statistics, do not survive the disease, but some do. You're going to meet an almost six year survivor in just a minute who is so inspirational, and we'll tell you about others as well. And you'll hear about smart treatment approaches for the disease, why is it so difficult to diagnose, what are the options, and how does a multidisciplinary center help. It's all coming your way next on Patient Power.

Hello from Seattle. Thank you for joining us. I'm Andrew Schorr with a live webcast sponsored by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and also produced in association with a wonderful advocacy group, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, or PanCAN, and I know many of you have heard about this program that way. Thank you. So you may well personally be touched, your family or you yourself with this diagnosis. About 40,000 people a year, a rare cancer but unfortunately often a very deadly one. But it's not always that way. And so we're going to talk about how to give you hope, support, connect you with the best care, and you're going to see that there are things being studied, things changing hopefully that can make a difference and people who want to help you along the way.

Now, we welcome your questions. This is a live webcast if you're listening on March 11th of 2009. You can send in a question or a comment via e mail. Our address is

Now, I mentioned, we know about the statistics. I think people understand that well, and really the question is, are those the statistics for me. Do not assume that. I have an in law who was diagnosed. He was on a cruise, became jaundiced, terrible realization that it was pancreatic cancer. She did have the Whipple procedure, that major of all major abdominal surgeries that can be used for some people in this case, and while it was a rough go she is doing well. And I think now she is about three or maybe even close to four years out. So that's given us a lot of hope. Otherwise, my father's second wife, my mother died earlier of colon cancer, my father remarried, and his second wife, heavy smoker, we'll find out if smoking is a connection, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and did not live long. So it is variable.

We'll learn more about that, but I want to connect you with somebody who is now almost a six year survivor, and that is Jeff Ross, a CPA, who joins us from sunny, beautiful Laguna Beach, California. And while he's in the sunshine, though, Jeff spends a great deal of his time talking individually to people with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis or other family members. He speaks to doctors, he speaks to patients, and he's very active in PanCAN. Jeff, thank you for joining us. Tell us how it began. I know you've told the story a thousand times, but I think it shows how difficult it is to get an early diagnosis of this condition. So take us back to July 1st, 2003.

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