1. Sammi’es story
2. Survivorship of pancreatic cancer
3. Deren’s story
4. Methods of treatment for pancreatic cancer
5. History of Tamir
6.Pancreatic cancer treatment clinics
Reading the survival statistics for pancreatic cancer, one may get the impression that there is no hope for patients. We want to prove that this is not the case. Thousands of people fight the disease every year and win. Their stories are a testament that even in the most difficult situations one should not give up; and a ray of hope for those who first hear the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
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Sammi’es story – surviving against all odds
In 2019, Sammi became pregnant with her first child. When the first symptoms appeared – shortness of breath, abdominal pain – everyone, including the family doctor, thought those were caused by pregnancy. But the mother-to-be got worse and worse and the doctors started running tests to find out the cause of her poor state. They ruled out one disease after another and eventually settled on a benign pancreatic tumour diagnosis. Because of the rapid deterioration, Sammi agreed to an early caesarean section to allow for a CT scan and biopsy.
The same day Sammi held her son in her arms for the first time, she found out what she had was pancreatic cancer. The news came as a shock to everyone, since the woman was not within the risk group, neither by age nor by heredity. Subsequent investigations revealed that the tumour was inoperable, as it affected the portal vein.
Many would have despaired at this stage, but Sammi and her husband decided to fight to the end, for the sake of their mutual happiness and the well-being of their son. The woman underwent two aggressive courses of chemotherapy, with many side effects. This stopped the growth of the tumour but did not shrink it.
The couple started going to various cancer centres, looking for any treatment options available. This is how they came to know about the Nano-knife technique. Despite the lack of progress from chemo, an interdisciplinary team looked at her case and agreed to take the woman for treatment. Before the operation, the surgeon explained that they would try to shrink the tumour with Nano-knife, and if successful, they would carry out Whipple surgery straight away. This treatment gives patients with pancreatic cancer the best prognosis, but whether it succeeds will only be known on the operating table.
Fortunately, the treatment was successful and the surgeon was able to achieve clear margins. This meant that the tumour had been cut out completely and the disease had receded. Sammi was finally able to go home and make up for lost time with her husband and son.
The woman says: “The last 18 months have been the most difficult in my life. I fought hard for myself, my husband and my family. There were days when I wanted to give up. It was very difficult. But I was lucky to have such amazing support and encouragement. It’s been five months since my Whipple surgery and I’m getting stronger every day. I am slowly starting to gain weight and can spend more and more time with my son. I try to enjoy every day and be grateful for the second chance I was given.”.
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Survival rates of patients with pancreatic cancer, depending on the stage
The five-year survival rate indicates what percentage of patients with pancreatic cancer at a certain stage live more than 5 years. It is worth remembering that the prognosis for treatment depends on several factors, in particular the method of treatment, the resectability of the tumour, and the tumour’s response to the drugs.
|Stage||5-year survival rate|
|Pancreatic neoplasm not extending beyond organ boundaries||39%|
|Cancer with regional spread||13%|
|Cancer with distant metastases||3%|
The history of Deren
Deren Smith is one of those people who take care of their health by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. He exercises, has no bad habits and eats a balanced diet. One of the few things Deren didn’t take care of is regular medical examinations. Like many men, he has always preferred to sit out an illness at home until it resolves on its own. When Deren began to lose weight drastically and experience digestive problems in 2018, he brushed off his wife’s requests to go for an appointment for months. Fortunately, the woman insisted and it saved his life.
Deren was sure that the doctor would confirm that there was nothing wrong with him. However, the first question his family doctor asked was “Are you aware that you have jaundice?” With bile duct stones suspected, the man was scheduled for a CT scan. Instead, the test revealed stage 3 pancreatic cancer.
The whole of the following year was spent on cancer treatment. Deren first underwent seven courses of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before having Whipple surgery. During this time he tried to keep his body fit. As an athlete, he knew that regular exercise boosts the immune system and that the endorphins released during physical activity suppress pain. After the six-hour procedure, the surgeon confirmed that the patient’s good physical condition had made it possible to achieve clear margins. The turning point of the treatment was over. Now, long-term oncotherapy remained, which would destroy the residual cancer cells and prevent a recurrence.
Recovering from the surgery, Deren underwent five more courses of chemotherapy and 12 sessions of radiation therapy. He lost a lot of weight and experienced constant fatigue, but remained positive about his future. To recover, he set himself small goals each day – for example, to walk around the block twice, gradually raising the bar.
More than three years have passed since the diagnosis. In 2021, Deren took part in an ultramarathon, running 50 kilometres in 9 hours. His story is proof that even a diagnosis like pancreatic cancer is not a death sentence.
“Listen to your body. It can save your life” is the lesson Deren would like people to learn from his story..
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What treatments for pancreatic cancer are used abroad?
The standard treatment protocol for any cancer is often made up of three components: surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Depending on the type of cancer and the condition of the patient, an individual treatment plan is drawn up to maximise the chances of recovery. Foreign clinics have access to the most advanced pancreatic cancer therapy, which requires special equipment and training on the part of the doctor. Advanced methods that save the lives of patients with this diagnosis include:
This is the ‘gold standard’ treatment for pancreatic cancer. During the procedure, the head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum, and the gallbladder and duct are removed. This is a complex and risky procedure that can take up to 8 hours. It is performed only by the most experienced oncology surgeons in specialist centres.
Whipple surgery can increase the prognosis of patients with pancreatic cancer from 6% to 25%.
Targeted therapy is a special group of drugs that target cancer cells. They can help patients with tumours that are resistant to chemotherapy. The FDA has approved 6 drugs that help patients with different types of pancreatic cancer. Foreign clinics have access to these drugs and the necessary facilities to provide the therapy.
Targeted therapy has the potential to improve survival rates of patients with pancreatic cancer by up to 24-32%.
The Nano-knife uses electric current to destroy the cancer cells. The method can be used to treat pancreatic tumours at stages 3 and 4, depending on their size and position. This is a relatively new method of treatment. Even among the advanced cancer centres of the world, few institutions offer it.
The Nano-knife can increase the life expectancy of patients with pancreatic cancer by up to 2 times.
HIPEC is prescribed to treat carcinomatosis, a stage of cancer in which tumours spread to the peritoneum. During the procedure, chemotherapy drugs are injected directly into the abdominal cavity and heated to 41-43°C, which increases their effectiveness. This is a complex procedure, available only in the most experienced cancer centres.
HIPEC can give pancreatic cancer patients an extra 2-3 years to live.
Tamir’s story – how clinical research saved his life twice
In 2011, a former Israeli football player, Tamir Gilat, was diagnosed with two types of cancer at the same time: pancreatic and kidney cancer. Most patients in his case do not live more than three months. The man was advised by his doctor to spend that time travelling the world or to pay attention to things he never had time for. But he refused to accept his situation. Tamir insisted on full treatment and underwent surgery during which both his pancreas and left kidney were removed. This was followed by three months of chemotherapy.
Three months later, tests showed the bad news: cancer had not receded, and tumours had started to form in the liver. At that point, the doctors decided that nothing more could be done – all pancreatic cancer treatment regimens and protocols had been exhausted.
It was at this time that Tamir met oncologist Talia Golan, one of Israel’s leading specialists in pancreatic cancer treatment. She invited him to take part in a study of a new targeted drug. It inhibited the ability of tumours to regenerate. The drug was originally developed to treat breast cancer, but it could work for other neoplasms as well. A condition for the treatment to be effective is the presence of a specific mutation in the BRCA gene, which makes cancer particularly aggressive. Among patients with pancreatic cancer, it is found in 15% of cases, and Tamir was one of them. Without a moment’s hesitation, he agreed to take part in the study. On average, targeted therapy can give a few months’ life to patients with metastatic cancer. However, Tamir stayed on the course for 51 months.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of his illness. In 2015, a body scan revealed that cancer had given rise to multiple metastases – tumours were found in the liver, spleen and diaphragm. With such an extensive lesion, surgery is usually not recommended. However, this time Tamir’s luck smiled – he was invited to investigate another treatment. He had to take two immunotherapy drugs simultaneously, which in combination with surgery would have prolonged his life for some time. Again the man managed to survive all the unfavourable prognoses. Thanks to immunotherapy, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells, Tamir continues to live. He organises the Israel Cancer Research Foundation and spends a lot of time with his three daughters. In 2020, Tamir Girat was invited to a TED conference, during which he shared his inspiring story.
The drugs with which Tamir halted the progress of his disease have received FDA approval and are included in current treatment regimens for many oncological diseases, including pancreatic cancer.
Treat pancreatic cancer abroad
MediGlobus coordinating doctors will advise you on experienced pancreatic cancer treatment specialists. Ask for a free consultation about treatment abroad by filling out the request form on our website and our coordinators will call you back within one hour.
At which clinics is pancreatic cancer treatment available?
Pancreatic cancer is a disease with one of the least favourable prognoses. Depending on the stage and resectability of the tumour, only 3-39% of patients survive more than five years. However, this is no reason to give up hope of a cure. New cancer therapies are still being developed, and even with a very poor prognosis, there is a chance to live many years.
The stories of people who have beaten pancreatic cancer are proof that it is possible to fight the disease. In addition to the medical aspect, the outcome also depends on the psychological state of the patient. Taking an active role in treatment and rehabilitation, being optimistic and having the support of loved ones are all real factors in helping people to beat cancer.
Among the most effective treatments for pancreatic cancer are Whipple surgery, Nano-knife therapy, targeted therapy and HIPEC chemotherapy. These are complex procedures that are carried out only by the most experienced oncologists.
Some of the leading clinics for pancreatic cancer treatment abroad include oncology centres in Turkey, Israel, Germany, Spain and Korea. A quick appointment with an experienced oncologist is possible with MediGlobus.
PANCREATIC CANCER TREATMENT APPOINTMENT
To sign up for pancreatic cancer treatment abroad, contact the international platform MediGlobus. We will help you quickly get an answer from the clinic and see a doctor without waiting in lines. We will also help you with travel arrangements
- 1. American Cancer Society: Surival Rate for Pancreatic Cancer
- 2. Pancreatic Cancer UK Charity
- 3. Gastrointestinal Cancer Research: Targeted Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer
- 4. Oncology Letters: Place of hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy in the armament against pancreatic adenocarcinoma: A survival, mortality and morbidity systematic review