Mayo Clinic Dr. Truty and his colleagues start treating pancreatic cancer with new chemotherapy drugs before surgery, rather than afterward and are able to increase survival rates by five times.
They use the medication to shrink the tumor and hunt down cancer cells that had spread far away from the pancreas. Patients then receive radiation therapy and finally, if the tumors have responded to treatment and the patient is strong enough, aggressive operations that few other doctors attempt. Half of Dr. Truty patients have been told elsewhere that their tumors can’t be removed.
The new approach pioneered by Dr. Truty is showing promising results. Patients with stage III pancreatic cancer (traditionally inoperable) have had eye-popping improvement in their outcomes.
With conventional treatment, their expected median survival would be less than a year. Their actual median survival is more than 50 months and counting. The majority of these 160 patients show no signs of cancer.