For Stefanie Condon-Oldreive, founder of Craig’s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society, a patient said it best: speed matters.
It could mean the difference between receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer or none at all.
“Patients presenting with symptoms of pancreatic cancer often get misdiagnosed or the diagnosis could take several months,” said Condon-Oldreive. But now there is an informational program that could make a world of difference.
Among cancer diagnoses, pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate in Canada.
But progress has been made and the survival rate is now 11 per cent. It may seem small but according to pancreatic surgeon Mike Moser, that number is double was it was 22 years ago.
“The chemotherapy has probably made the biggest strides more than anything,” said Moser. “Five years ago we didn’t really have chemotherapy that could shrink pancreatic cancers. Now we do.”
Increased treatment means more advanced procedures. Moser is one of two surgeons in Canada that can complete what he calls the Nano knife procedure.
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“Needles are placed with the help of a CT scan or an ultrasound,” said Moser. ” What they do is essentially four of them will frame around the tumor and the machine will deliver a very high electrical current for a very brief period of time. This is repeated about a 100 times and what that does is it will punch little holes in the cells inside that frame where those electrodes are placed. These holes in the cells will become like leaky ships and start to loose their electrolytes, proteins, and will take on water. Within a few hours they’ll die off.”
With better treatments and advanced procedures, the question that remains is why is it taking doctors so long to diagnose a person. Moser believes its due to a lack of information.
For the first time in Canada that information is now available for doctors across the country and its all online.
“(Training) can be taken at home or at the office and it will take about an hour to complete,” said Condon-Oldreive. “It’s interactive and they get a certificate and hours towards their licensing.”
They say it’s small strides in the care of pancreatic cancer patients that will make all the difference for patients and their families.
For more information on the course visit the Craig’s Cause Pancreatic Cancer Society website.