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Targeted Radiation Therapy Safe, Effective Treatment for Elderly with Pancreatic Cancer
Date:9/24/2013

Detroit, Michigan (PRWEB) September 25, 2013

A highly targeted cancer radiation therapy may offer a safe and effective treatment option for elderly pancreatic cancer patients unable to undergo surgery or combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), the study finds patients lived, on average, six to seven months longer following treatment with minimal side-effects even when they had other severe comorbidities such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes.

Two of the patients in the study lived nearly two years.

“Elderly individuals, those ages 75 and older, account for approximately 40 percent of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” says study lead author Raphael Yechieli, M.D., with the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

“These patients are too ill to receive any other treatment, but with stereotactic body radiotherapy we’re able to deliver a safe and effective treatment in two weeks that can provide them with a substantial quality of life with minimal side effects.”

The study was presented at the 55nd annual American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) meeting in Atlanta.

In 2013, there will be an estimated 45,220 new cases of pancreatic cancer, and approximately 38,460 will die from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, diabetes, obesity, family history of the disease and pancreatitis. Most people diagnosed with the disease are older than 65.

Surgery is the only known cure for resectable pancreatic cancer, where the cancer is localized to the pancreas and hasn't spread. It is estimated that only 20 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have their tumors present with localized disease amendable to surgical removal.

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