For Greene County News
XENIA — Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most diagnosed cancer and the Greene Memorial Hospital’s Ruth McMillian Cancer Center is providing the latest medical treatments to help cancer patients.
Dr. Malek Safa, one of Greene’s oncologists, is encouraged by the advancements science is making to help patients through chemotherapeutic agents and new targeted therapies. “Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive cancer and should be treated with every means, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” said Dr. Safa.
“Recently there has been an emergence of new chemotherapy regimens to improve survival. I’m very optimistic that with research some targeted therapy against pancreatic cancer will be developed.”
The pancreas is a small, spongy organ which lies just under the curvature of the stomach within the abdomen. The function of the pancreas primarily produces enzymes which are useful for the digestion of food and it secretes hormones which help maintain and regulate body sugar levels.
While aggressive, pancreatic cancer, in most cases, is locally advanced if not yet metastatic. Nationally in 2014, there were 46,420 new cases of pancreatic cancer and 39,590 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.
And while the ninth most diagnosed, it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women.
Patients at the Ruth McMillian Cancer Center not only have access to the treatments they need, but also the entire Kettering Health Network and their Cancer Care program, which collaborates in getting patients the latest treatments available.
“Greene Memorial patients have access to chemotherapy and radiation therapy as needed,” explained Dr. Safa. “Doctors work together to share cases and learn more about the latest medicines and treatments available.”
The most common risk factor for this type of cancer is smoking. Other factors include diabetes or chronic pancreatitis. Research shows there appears to be a “mild correlation between the onset of diabetes and pancreatic cancer,” but it is not entirely clear if this is fully a cause or perhaps an effect of the cancer.
“Unfortunately, we do not have a screening for pancreatic cancer,” said Safa. The incidence of pancreatic cancer increases with age; most people are between the ages of 60 to 80 when they receive the diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute.
We hope with more awareness, as well as recognition and research on this type of cancer, we will stop it in its tracks, concluded Dr. Safa.