For a few weeks Ron had noticed a bump near his belly button, it turned into a weird sore…perhaps it was a hernia? The doctor gave him some antibiotics. The pills did not help. The doctor put some other type of medicine on it, thinking maybe it was a staph infection…. Finally a biopsy was done…And a CT scan “just to see what was underneath” The phone call from the doctor was urgent “Come in right away.” On June 3rd the doctor said that there was a lesion on his pancreas and another smaller one on his liver. He said it looked like pancreatic cancer. WHAM!!!!!! What did he just say??????
Further tests including the CA 19-9 blood test confirmed the initial diagnosis. Little is known about the causes of pancreatic cancer. The disease is difficult to diagnose in its early stages, as it presents few symptoms and there are few tests to screen for it. As a result, most patients have incurable disease by the time they are diagnosed. Fewer than 5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive five years beyond diagnosis of the disease.
On Monday June 13th Ron and Patty met with Dr. David Lee Ron’s oncologist at Palo Alto Medical Center. He and his staff are warm and caring. He spoke to Ron and Patty and examined Ron thoroughly. He discussed and explained a new chemotherapy treatment based on a recent clinical trial that will help to extend Ron’s life
Gemzar has been a standard chemotherapy drug for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer for some time. Recent results, however, suggest that the combination known as FOLFIRINOX (5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, and oxaliplatin) may be more effective.
To compare FOLFIRINOX with Gemzar, researchers in France conducted a Phase II-III clinical trial among 342 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Study participants had not previously been treated with chemotherapy. All had a good performance status, meaning that they were generally able to carry out activities of daily living.
- Overall survival among was 11.1 months among patients in the FOLFIRINOX group and 6.8 months among patients in the Gemzar group.
This is likely the course of treatment that Ron will be following. There are a few more tests to take this weeks and a meeting with Dr. Lee’s nurse to explain the chemotherapy.