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Ed Yeates ReportingAs cancers go, pancreatic cancer is a real bad one. There are no current screenings to detect it early and survival rates are not good. But physicians do have new weapons to fight the cancer they didn't have five years ago and that's in Bobbye Sloan's favor.
Patients diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas know from the get-go their battle is going to be a tough one. Bobbye Sloan's attitude today in talking about her latest villain is not unlike the way she handled breast cancer more than five years ago.
Back then when Shelley Osterloh visited the family, Bobbye remained positive, taking each day at a time, telling those around her - life goes on. That upbeat swing she carries with her rubs off on everybody, even though this latest cancer is a mean one.
Russell Shield, Jazz Team Internist: “She is in excellent health. She’s excellent emotionally. She’s a buddy and a friend, and she is going to do well.”
That's what all oncologists hope, including Dr. John Ward at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
John Ward, M.D., Oncology, Huntsman Cancer Institute: "One of the advances in oncology in the last few years has been the approval of a drug for pancreatic cancer that has changed the outlook, maybe not as much as we would have liked, but it has improved the outlook for patients with pancreatic cancer."
That drug is called Gemcitabine. It's not only used alone but experimentally in combination with new targeting agents which go specifically after the tumors. Also, new cutting-edge radiation therapy can sometimes shrink the tumors enough so they can be removed surgically.
Research also continues trying to find a way to diagnose pancreatic cancer at a very early stage, before it becomes life threatening. Dr. Ward says although it's hard to prove scientifically, patient attitude will continue to play a significant role, perhaps in survival, definitely in the quality of life.
Dr. Ward: "And I don't think there is any question that people who have a good outlook do better in both measurable and unmeasurable ways than those who don't."
That's Bobbye all the way. Therapy begins, it's now a wait and see game.