Florida has the third highest incidence of pancreatic cancer in the country. Which is why Dr. Mark Bloomston, a surgical oncologist on the medical staff of Lee Health, is eager to offer a clinical trial for patients who have been told their cancer is inoperable. “One of the problems with pancreatic cancer is not only does it spread early; it can grow into blood vessels nearby. When it does grow into these blood vessels many times even though it’s not metastatic, it’s inoperable.”
The ongoing clinical trial is geared toward treating patients who have advanced tumors that cannot be removed because they involve blood vessels. To qualify patients to need to be considered ineligible for surgery and be strong enough for treatment.
“It’s a catheter-based therapy. The catheter goes up through the groin through the artery directly into the blood vessel that feeds the tumor. Then we can use a small balloon system where we can isolate the blood vessel and then put a high dose of chemotherapy through the catheter directly into the tumor,” said Dr. Bloomston.
Along with chemotherapy and radiation, patients selected to receive the outpatient procedure receive six treatments in four months. The goal is to shrink the tumor to prolong survival—and hopefully qualify the patient for surgery.
“The goal is to get to surgery. Ultimately, the only cure to therapy is surgery. The surgery is big. Its high risk, but we have great outcomes. About a fifth of the patients that we do this operation on are over the age of 80 in this town and they do great,” he said.
Giving patients with pancreatic cancer hope, treatment, and hopefully a better quality of life.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.