Surgical hope for pancreatic cancer patients

Surgical hope for pancreatic cancer patients

The diagnosis of cancer can be tough to process. But when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a disease commonly known to have low survival rates, patients find it hard to hold on to hope.

Cancer clinicians at University of Florida Health say one of the greatest challenges pancreatic cancer patients face is the misconception that there is no hope after diagnosis. Nationally, nearly 40% of early pancreatic cancer patients are candidates for surgery, but they never see a surgeon.

Patients with early pancreatic cancer could qualify for minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopic or robotic procedures, sometimes called key-hole or Band-Aid surgeries.

One surgery showing promise is the Whipple procedure, an operation that involves removing the head of the pancreas, the beginning of the small intestine, the gallbladder and the bile duct and reattaching the remaining organs to allow for normal digestion after surgery.

The UF physicians perform a high volume of Whipple procedures, about 100 a year. To have the best outcome from this operation, the American Cancer Society recommends that patients seek a hospital that does at least 15 Whipple procedures per year.

Pancreatic cancer surgery, in the hands of the right surgeon, has become very safe with minimally invasive options. While individual experiences may vary, the majority of patients can expect to return to normal life within a few short months after surgery.

Pancreatic cancer can be scary, but there are options. A consultation with a surgeon may be just what a patient needs to stay hopeful and change their perception of their pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

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