Vidant Medical Hospital begins new pancreatic cancer treatment

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new treatment option for pancreatic cancer is targeting tumors directly while shrinking the risk for side effects.

Vidant Medical Center is the first hospital in the mid-Atlantic region to offer a new treatment option for pancreatic cancer. It involves the use of a novel catheter-based system, the RenovoRx double balloon device, which allows the physician to give the patient high doses of chemotherapy. Conventional chemotherapy delivers the chemo systemically, which means it’s injected into the patient and travels throughout the bloodstream. That can lead to side effects common in chemotherapy.

“This catheter provides a viable treatment option for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer with potentially fewer side effects than other, more conventional approaches,” said Dr. Emmanuel Zervos, professor and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, Brody School of Medicine at ECU. “It has the potential to provide a higher therapeutic dose of chemotherapy to possibly shrink tumors enough so they can be removed surgically.”

Zervos is the trial’s principal investigator and so far, dozens of other patients have been successfully treated with it in several major U.S. medical centers.

The treatment is a more localized approach, and that allows the oncology team to deliver a significantly higher dose of chemo because there’ s a lower risk of it affecting other organs. Going directly at the tumor has a direct effect on patients who aren’t candidates for surgery.

If the tumor reaches surrounding blood vessels essential for survival, surgical intervention isn’t an option. Given the chance, this new method can change that.

“Our multi-disciplinary team, including Dr. Prashanti Atluri, assistant professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology, ECU Brody School of Medicine, and Dr. Chris Thomas, vascular/interventional radiologist with Eastern Radiologists, is dedicated to providing our patients with every possible opportunity for cure,” Zervos added.

Pancreatic cancer patients have few treatment options available to them. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016.

The 5-year survival rate is only about 6-percent.

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