Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee, a pancreatic cancer specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine also emphasized the patient’s site of metastasis, or where the cancer has spread. Metastasis arises only in the patient’s lungs. Most patients with pancreatic cancer have metastases to the liver that are more difficult to treat.
“I want to see the liver damage go away,” says Dr. Jaffee.
Kathy Wilkes, successfully treated patient, is 71 years old and lives in Ormond-by-the-Sea, Fla. It’s too early to tell if the cancer will come back.
New developments in cancer research
Progress in this area. In recent years, advances in research have changed the way cancer is treated. Here are some recent updates:
Mrs. Wilkes’ cancer is very serious.
“This woman has tried all available treatments and has failed,” said Dr Jarnagin, who did not treat Ms Wilkes but reviewed her case. Usually, in such cases, the cancer has developed resistance to any additional treatments.
“For most in that situation, the cancer will soon prevail,” he said.
Mrs. Wilkes first noticed symptoms that were later attributed to pancreatic cancer in 2015. She was tired, comatose and in severe pain. At first, the tumor did not show up on CT scans. But by early 2018, a tumor appeared – a 3.5 cm mass in the head of her pancreas.
She received chemotherapy followed by a grueling surgery – the Whipple procedure – in which surgeons removed the first part of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and the bile duct. Then she had more chemotherapy, followed by radiation and even more chemotherapy.
The cancer was gone from her pancreas, but nodules appeared in her lungs – metastasized. Chemotherapy and radiation continued throughout 2018.
“I just went through with it. I’m definitely not ready to die yet,” Ms. Wilkes said. “I have that inner voice that says, ‘You can best be this.'”