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Pancreatic cancer: The smaller the tumor, the better your chances, study shows
Date:1/28/2008

The odds of surviving cancer of the pancreas increase dramatically for patients whose tumors are smallest, according to a new study by researchers at Saint Louis University and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston the first study to specifically evaluate the link between tumor size and survival rates for one of the most common and deadly cancers.

The findings in the current edition of Pancreas (www.pancreasjournal.com) vividly underscore the importance of early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, the researchers said.

Even though it seems intuitive and was supported by preliminary observations from earlier studies, for the first time we now have evidence that a progressive decrease in the size of a pancreatic tumor at the time of diagnosis improves patient outcomes rather dramatically, said Banke Agarwal, M.D., Associate Professor of gastroenterology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

These data emphasize the benefit and the need of finding and diagnosing tumors in the pancreas as early as possible, Agarwal added. In order to make progress against pancreatic cancer, we have to redouble our efforts to identify symptoms that are associated with the early stages of the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States and one of the most deadly, responsible for more than 33,000 deaths a year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Despite many advances in the fight against other cancers in recent years, the prognosis for patients diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer has remained extremely poor. Thats largely because the cancer is frequently not suspected and is difficult to diagnose in its early stages, when most people are asymptomatic or have non-specific symptoms that are easily ignored or attributed to other diseases.

The study looked at 65 patients who were diagnose
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Contact: Donn Walker
dwalke18@slu.edu
314-977-8015
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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