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Monday 24th October 2016

Pancreatic cancer hope

11th March 2008

Doctors in London have performed an operation which could help people suffering from cancer of the pancreas.


Surgeons from the Royal Free Hospital carried out an operation in December 2007 using techniques first carried out in America. They cut out the tumour and the "portal vein," and replaced it with the jugular vein.

The portal vein, which is a "major vessel" close to the pancreas - is removed due to the fact that cancer usually spreads to that region of the body as it grows.

The woman who had the surgery is said to be "recovering well". This new operation could potentially help 700 patients annually.

At the moment, advanced cancer of the pancreas cannot be treated surgically. The majority of patients are told they have half a year to live. Only 3% of patients survive for five years or more.

The news arrived as press reports confirmed that Hollywood star Patrick Swayze is suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Surgeon Kito Fusai, who operated on the woman with his colleague Dinesh Sharma, said: "If discovered early, before it has spread to other major organs such as the liver or lungs, the cancer may be treatable. However, currently only a small proportion of patients - around 10% - are suitable for surgery."

He added that most patients would need to be treated with chemotherapy or receive palliative care.

He described the new techniques as "exciting" as they would allow more patients to have surgery and could save "hundreds more lives."

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