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Swayze: Case study for pancreatic cancer treatment

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

The doctor who treated actor Patrick Swayze for pancreatic cancer told news sources the celebrity's length of survival with the condition was uncommon.

Dr George Fisher, an oncologist at Sanford Hospitals and Clinics said on CNN's Larry King Live that patients receiving standard treatments for pancreatic cancer can typically survive up to two years, though very few do. Swayze was the exception, dying approximately two years after he was first diagnosed. The actor was given experimental medication as part of a clinical study at Stanford.

Health officials explained to CNN Health reporters that pancreatic cancer most commonly claims its victims by spreading to other parts of the body such as the liver or abdominal cavity. Doctors attest that pancreatic cancer testing through CAT scans may detect the disease early.

Fisher commented, "We're developing algorithms for trying to identify people at risk, and then less invasive tests to try to figure out who's got it and who doesn't."

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include abdominal pain, jaundice and sudden weight loss.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that pancreatic cancer will cause 35,240 deaths by the end of 2009.

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