Live Longer with Pancreatic Cancer

It causes pain and discolored skin, and by the time pancreatic cancer is diagnosed, it’s often too late. Doctors say life expectancy is often four to six months. Now researchers are testing a drug that not only stops the cancer but has nearly wiped out the disease in some patients.

Fifty-five-year-old Richard enjoys a sunny afternoon with his wife, Brenda. Not too long ago, he was too tired and weak to even get out of bed. “I went to the doctor, and they told me it was a urinary tract infection. They gave me some pills and sent me home,” says Richard.

A couple of days later, he learned he would have to face the same disease that killed his father — pancreatic cancer. “I was diagnosed in June of 1998, and I was on two different kinds of chemo for six months, each one,” says Richard.

The disease continued to spread. Then Richard found Dr. Robert Reynolds, who is involved in a nationwide study. He’s testing a drug called rubitecan, an oral chemotherapy.

“We’ve seen in several people evidence that the cancers have diminished in size, and occasionally we’ve seen some people in whom the cancer has almost disappeared,” says Dr. Reynolds, an oncologist/hematologist.

Dr. Reynolds says this experimental drug has stopped Richard’s cancer from growing. Instead of spending hours in a doctor’s office, he takes two pills, five days a week.

“The first chemo he was on, he was sick for four or five days at a time,” says Brenda. “He’d stay on the sofa, and with the new drug, he’s just his old self.”

During an earlier study involving 60 patients, more than 30 percent responded to the drug. The median survival rate was increased from about six months to 17 months.

Dr. Reynolds says, “For him to be a healthier person now than he was a year ago is nothing short of astounding.”

Richard says, “God sent this to me. I know for sure that through His grace, He worked a miracle.”

Compared to traditional chemotherapy, rubitecan reduces nausea and hair loss.

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