Pancreatic Cancer: Whipple


LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Pancreatic cancer. By the time you know you have it, it is usually too late. This year, 60,000 people will be told they have it. Almost 50,000 will die from it. In fact, pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. But now, a new life-saving robotic surgery is giving those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance.

And the collection just kept growing … old phones, turn of the century typewriters, antique stoves. For 75-year-old Don Somerville, memories of the past can be spotted all around his house.

Don’s lived a long, full life; a soldier, a singer, a lawyer, and now a cancer survivor!

“Whenever you tell people pancreatic cancer, people go, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ You already know there are basically, you know, writing you off right as you sit there,” shared Don.

But Ahmad Abou Abbass, MD, FACS, hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgeon, Providence Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California is not going to let that happen. He used a new state- of- the- art robotic Whipple procedure to laparoscopically remove Don’s cancer.

(Read Full Interview)

“It’s like driving a machine and I sit on the machine and actually every move I do, it translates into a movement in the robot,” explained Dr. Abbass.

The Whipple procedure creates tiny incisions in the abdomen, about the size of a pencil head to reach the pancreas.

“For cancers in the head of the pancreas, it entails removing the head of the pancreas with all the other organs and doing all that reconstruction,” continued Dr. Abbass.

The Whipple uses a 3D camera that magnifies the area nine times. Instead of recovery taking up to 10 days in the hospital, patients experience less pain, and many go home in four days.

“They are up and walking, next day,” said Dr. Abbass.

For Don, after surgery followed by chemo, he now has more life to live and more memories to make.

“I am so happy with that outcome,” smiled Don.

Pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat because it’s usually not detected until later stages. Early symptoms include jaundice, irritated skin, a dull pain in the belly or upper abdomen, weight loss, orange-colored urine, nausea, and blood clots.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4971

BACKGROUND: In 2021, approximately 60,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is currently the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States after lung and colon, having the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. Symptoms for pancreatic cancer may include weight loss, abdominal discomfort, back pain, and development of type 2 diabetes. Some tumors may cause jaundice leading to earlier diagnosis. For all stages combined, the 5-year relative survival rate is 10%. Even for the small percentage of people diagnosed with local disease, the 5-year survival is only 39%. Most patients are diagnosed at a later stage, for which the 5-year survival is 3%.


STANDARD TREATMENTS: Pancreatic cancer treatment depends on the patient’s overall health and stage of the disease. Standard treatments for pancreatic cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a mix of these. For eligible patients, surgery is the best option for long-term survival. Another option is chemotherapy which uses drugs to kill cancer cells by stopping them from growing and dividing. These drugs travel through the bloodstream and damage cancer cells throughout the body. The goal of radiation is to stop the tumor from growing or to shrink it while not harming the healthy organs or tissue nearby. Doctors may use radiation therapy to relieve pain the tumor causes, try to shrink the tumor before surgery, or destroy cancer cells that may be in the area after surgery. Clinical trials are the only way for researchers to see if new treatments help people with pancreatic cancer.


NEW WHIPPLE PROCEDURE: The Whipple procedure, or pancreaticoduodenectomy, is a surgery used to remove tumors in the pancreas. The Whipple removes and reconstructs a large part of the gastrointestinal tract and is considered a difficult and complex operation. If a tumor is in the head of the pancreas and has not spread to other areas of the body, the Whipple procedure may be attempted. In a standard Whipple procedure, the surgeon removes the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, the duodenum, a portion of the stomach and surrounding lymph nodes, and then reconnects the remaining pancreas and digestive organs. In some cases, patients may undergo a modified version of the Whipple procedure, which keeps the entire stomach and the stomach valve called the pylorus.





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Ahmad Abou Abbass, MD, FACS, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgeon

Read the entire Q&A