There is new research that shows a simple variance in the treatment of pancreatic cancer can have a considerable impact on the survivability of the disease.
The claim was made by world-renowned Professor Douglas Evans, chair of the department of surgery the Medical College of Wisconsin, USA, at the second annual John E Sabga Foundation Distinguished Lecture Series at the Hyatt ballroom on Thursday where he presented his study.
In the United States an estimated 44,330 people die each year from the disease with the annual mortality rate per 100,000 people from pancreatic cancer in T&T has increased by 545 per cent since 1990.
The chances of survival of the disease are extremely low with only an estimated seven per cent of patients surviving for a five-year period.
As it currently stands, the standard treatment for the disease is, if detected early enough, removing the tumour through surgery followed by the administration of chemotherapy to the patient.
Explaining Evans’ research to Guardian Media yesterday, Dr Dilip Dan, a director of the John E Sabga Foundation, said: “What the new studies are showing and what the new trials are showing is that even if you do surgery with these tumours, the survival rate is not much different because the cells have already spread, despite the fact that we think they are limited to the area we are going to cut out.”
According to Dan, the new study shows that the chances of survival are made higher for resectable cancer if the chemotherapy is administered before surgery and “if you get a biopsy of a tumour and actually study the molecular genetics of that tumour, you can know which type of chemo the tumour would be sensitive to.”
“What his studies are showing is they have been able to identify the molecular-genetic pathway for these tumours and can now determine which medium to use.”
Natalie Sabga founded the John E Sabga Foundation in memory of her husband who died after a long battle with stage four pancreatic cancer late last year. Its goal is to find a cure for unresectable pancreatic cancer, to educate the public, and to provide the medical forum for physicians.
She said they were able to acquire a treatment made specifically for this country called the Sabga 1 Trinidad Trial.
“We’re hoping to get this trial up and running in Trinidad by early next year. We’ve already gotten the approval from the Federal Drug Administration of America. They have approved the protocol…they have approved the drugs to be used in combination with each other,” she said.
In preparation for the trial, the foundation has put together a team of doctors who are involved in cancer care. She is hoping for a successful trial so it can be distributed around the world to help others with the disease.
People like cancer patient Mary Phillip are likely to benefit.