Is This a More Hopeful Time for Pancreatic Cancer Research?

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Topics include: Treatments and Understanding

With an increased understanding of how pancreatic cancer flourishes and tools that help us gauge treatment response, Dr. Daniel Laheru of Johns Hopkins Medicine talks about some of the strategies that are helping propel research for a disease with a reputation of being tough to treat. He also discusses the Centers of Excellence across the country bridging the gap between research and practice to help patients gain better access to care.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Hello and welcome to Patient Power.  I'm Andrew Schorr.  

I can tell you that as a two-time cancer survivor I draw hope from the perspectives of leading researchers for the cancers that I have.  What about for pancreatic cancer?  Where are we headed, and are the researchers hopeful?  We sat done with Dr. Daniel Laheru who is a leading researcher in pancreatic cancer.  He's the co-director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.  Dr. Laheru, is this a hopeful time?  

I think now with better treatments, whether it's FOLFIRINOX or Gem Abraxane or other new Gem combinations or again an array of new clinical trials, I think it's the expectation that these patients are going to do better on some of these new treatments.  And I think we know more about the supportive care, which is so important in getting patients and their families through these very complicated schedules is that not only administering these treatments but then also to make sure that they do well and adjustments are made appropriately, and so they—that the side effects that patients have are—are well taken care of. 

I think both of those strategies together I think have led to improvements in patient outcomes in a good way here, and I think that because of all the work that's going on across the country there's a lot of people now interested in pancreas cancer.  I see this myself.  We—you know, in years past very few trainees were interested in pancreas cancer, because there was not a lot of money directed toward pancreas cancer, and I think truthfully not a lot of good progress either.  The feeling was what kind of impact can we make in pancreas cancer?

But you see it now that there are many young oncology trainees who are making it their career to—to study pancreas study and that's only—that can only be good news here.  So I think with all these young, smart minds joining the cause here, I think we'll be that much closer to identifying new treatments for pancreas cancer, and we can't wait to bring these out to patients and show them kind of where their investment in research has gone.  

Again, this is where I think groups like PanCAN can be very helpful because again they have—they have invested people, time and groups like us know the value of PanCAN so when they call us or e?mail us to find out what studies are open, you know it's in our best interest also to make sure that these lists are accurate and up to date so that patients can get the right information and hear about all the new and innovative clinical trials that are open across the country. 

So again, I don't think patients necessarily, thankfully now have to come to move across country to get their treatment.  Again, with a lot of these great collaborations and as I mentioned with centers of excellence across the country that patients should feel comfortable in saying, well, if I live near an academic center, there's likely very good clinical research going on.  And what those are I think that PanCAN again has a face and a personal touch here to connect with patients and give them information that's accurate and timely and comprehensive here.  So I think that this is a great partnership that we have with them, and again I think it only helps investigators like myself that we can partner with great groups like PanCAN. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on March 24, 2015