Every day more than 1,200 people worldwide are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which has one of the lowest survival rates for this disease.
But now there may be a breakthrough for the patients.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive. According to the American Cancer Society, at best 5 years of survival is 14%, while in the worst forecasts it is only 1%.
Now Vall de Hebron Hospital in Barcelona (Spain) is testing a groundbreaking technique that can improve the situation. It is called RF and with this procedure they have successfully driven three people.
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These patients suffered from a highly specific type of pancreatic cancer, a locally advanced adenocarcinoma in the pancreas, unusable with traditional technology and whose sole treatment is palliative chemotherapy.
Therefore, radio frequency can be effective as an alternative to palliative chemotherapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer with a worse prediction.
An innovative technique
This technique consists of introducing a needle that allows to apply temperatures up to 80ºC directly in the tumor zone. High temperature burn the cells.
The needle also has a cooling system. "In this type of surgery, a cooling system is used that allows for the introduction of coolants that reach areas like duodenum to prevent overheating," explains surgeon Elizabeth Pando, Vall d'Hebron Hospital.
It is a procedure already used in other types of cancer, such as liver, kidney and lung tumors, but has never been applied to pancreatic cancer.
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"Nobody has ever dared to do it, and the studio breaks that barrier," says Pando.
So far, it was considered that radio frequency could not be used in pancreatic cancer because it led to too many risks due to the tumor's location, surrounded by larger arteries and veins.
If the results are confirmed, this procedure from 2020 or 2021 may be a "good option" for patients in the pancreatic cancer that can not be used.
A complicated forecast
The activity has been carried out in the framework of a study led by the academic medical center in the Netherlands.
The study estimates that approximately 40% of patients have locally advanced pancreatic cancer at the time of diagnosis. The average survival rate in patients with this disease is approximately eight months.
- Why is pancreatic cancer so aggressive?
One of the causes of the high mortality of pancreatic cancer is that the symptoms it causes are so unspecified that 80% of patients are diagnosed in advanced stages.
Once diagnosed, only 20% of these types of tumors are operative. For the remaining 80%, the only alternative to date is chemotherapy.
"It gave me six months to live"
One of the patients with this method at the hospital Vall d'Hebron is Maria José del Valle, who last week showed doctors in this center to present the results of the first radio frequency interventions.
Mary José, who had been a doctor all his life, was at a friend's house when she realized she had the yellow arm. Following the relevant tests, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
He was invited to participate in the clinical study and at the press conference he said it signed "without reading". He went through two months of chemotherapy before he underwent the innovative surgical procedure. "I knew that survival is low, I gave me six months." Now he is "phenomenal".
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Currently, this technique has only been used in patients who were stable after months of chemotherapy.
Even if the doctor asks for caution, they are optimistic. "If it is confirmed that this therapy is effective for locally advanced adenocarcinoma in the pancreas, we will finally get a technique that will enable us to improve the prognosis for this malignant tumor," concludes Dr. Ramón Charco.
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