Dr. Casey Boyd Duncan, a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston surgery resident and lead author of a paper analyzing the options for terminally ill pancreatic cancer patients, visited with Guidry News Service about her research. Listen
“My interest is in cancer, and since pancreatic cancer has a lot of room for improvement, that’s why we wanted to focus on pancreatic cancer,” she said. “Unfortunately the chemotherapy and the radiation therapy and the treatments that have developed have not really been that effective.”
Thus, she said providing options for quality of life for pancreatic cancer patients has been the object of her study.
“For patients with pancreatic cancer, they either have metastatic disease or they have local disease and unfortunately the majority of patients with pancreatic cancer have metastatic disease at the time they are diagnosed,” Dr. Duncan said.
“So for those patients, they can get chemotherapy which may improve their symptoms but it only prolongs their life maybe two months; but a majority of that time may be spent having tests and getting chemotherapy and seeing doctors for a limited survival benefit.”
She said about one-third of pancreatic cancer patients who have “early disease” may be candidates for surgery.
“But that’s a big, complicated surgery and has a lot of complications and risks with it and they are in the hospital for a long time.” Dr. Duncan said.
“So, really we wanted to provide patients with information so they could make that decision, so that they can talk to their family and have some concrete data on which they can base their choices.”
Dr. Duncan said that the issue is quantity versus quality of life.
“I’m all for curing cancer,” she said. “But there comes a point where we have to focus on quality of life as well. That’s why we did this.”
UTMB News Release