Health Report: Testing for pancreatic cancer

Health Reports

A year ago, Jepordy host Alex Trebek announced to the world that he had stage four pancreatic cancer. It’s a devastating diagnosis.

Trebek had only an 18% chance to survive for a year. He beat the odds, but not everyone is as lucky.

A new way of detecting markers for this deadly disease in it’s earliest stages may help impact the chances of surviving it. Oscar and Dexter are just what the doctor ordered.

It’s been an exhausting year for Beverly Leighton after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Leighton watched her mother and grandfather die from the same disease and feared that she would be next.

“Detecting it late is often a fatal sentence,” said Amitabh Chak, MD, Gastroenterologist at University Hospitals in Cleveland.

Doctors at University Hospitals in Cleveland are part of the caps five clinical trial to identify markers for detecting pancreatic cancer long before symptoms appear and before it spreads.

“The pancreas is not surrounded by a capsule. So the cancer tends to spread much more rapidly,” said Dr. Chak.

By testing specific markers in blood and pancreatic fluid, Doctors hope to find the cancer in it’s earliest stage.

For Bob Adelman, the yearly tests give this father of three peace of mind. His mother died of breast cancer.

Adelman and his sister both tested positive for the BRCA1 gene thus putting them both at a high risk for pancreatic cancer.

“I’ve got a lot riding on. I’ve got these three kids and I want to be here for them,” said Adelman.

So far so good for Bob and his sister.

“It wasn’t really a hard decision at the time. It was like I didn’t feel like there were really any other options,” said Marnie Fletcher, Clinical Trial Patient.

The test caught Beverly Leighton’s cancer early at stage one. After surgery, chemo and radiation, Leighton believes this test is truly a life saver.

“I just feel blessed that all the stars aligned and I was in the right place at the right time to catch the cancer early,” said Leighton.

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