Pancreatic cancer therapies are rapidly progressing with continuous patient advancements. More therapies have become available to patients, not only at large institutions but at community-based cancer centers, too.
Dr. Roy Chen, a medical oncologist/hematologist at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists (NYCBS), discusses various treatment options that have been making large strides in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
While the reasons for developing this gastrointestinal (GI) cancer are not completely known, it may be because patients seldom present with symptoms until the disease has progressed.
“For the most part, patients with pancreatic cancer are asymptomatic, and it is sometimes found incidentally,” Dr. Chen said. “By the time patients are diagnosed, it is usually at an advanced stage.”
Although there are typically no symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), stomach pain, fatigue, weight loss, and even depression can all be presenting signs of pancreatic cancer. It is important to see your doctor if you notice any changes.
For pancreatic cancer patients, surgery is the definitive treatment. “There are other treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and most importantly clinical trials, which are available at NYCBS,” Dr. Chen said. “Immunotherapy can sometimes be helpful in a patient’s treatment but is not for everyone. We know now that every patient’s cancer is different so we use genomic evaluations to target the cancer DNA itself, which is also known as personalized medicine.”
“Genetic testing may have some implications for treatment as well,” Dr. Chen said. “One of the more common inherited breast cancer mutations known as BRCA can also predispose some patients to pancreatic cancer. Testing of blood or saliva to find this or other mutations the patient was born with, passed on from a parent, can be done in our office along with genetic counseling.”
There is rapid progress being made in the field of medicine and new therapies to better help more patients. When we catch cancer early, we can treat and cure the disease before it gets to a later stage.
To schedule an appointment at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, please call 1-833-CANCER9.