Local News

Doctors Trying To Improve Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

Posted November 15, 2002

— Pancreatic cancer

is a disease that kills many of its victims. In 2002, nearly 30,000 Americans will die from this type of cancer.

Allen Hueter said all he has left of his mother are pictures and memories. She died two years ago after fighting pancreatic cancer for eight months.

"She actually beat the odds. They usually die within three to six months," Hueter said.

Doctors said pancreatic cancer has a 99 percent death rate, the highest of any cancer. Because the pancreas is located deep inside the abdomen, doctors say patients usually do not feel the tumor and do not have any distinct symptoms.

"The tests that we use to evaluate it are more elaborate scans, and even those are fairly imperfect and cannot pick up early tumors," said Dr. Joel Tepper, a radiation oncologist at the

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

.

Tepper also said treatments usually include surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

"What sort of hope does the medical community have to offer to people who have pancreatic cancer? Well, although pancreatic cancer is a very serious disease it is still a disease that can be cured," he said.

Hueter is doing what he can to help. Last month, he put together a bike ride from Cary to Topsail beach in honor of his mother and raised $6,000.

"We didn't want to do something simple, so that's what we chose," he said. "We want to make the event bigger next year. We want to get a whole lot more cyclists involved."

Tepper said he believes pancreatic cancer is starting to get attention that will help researchers look for better tests and treatments.

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