Doctors, Staff Hope to Raise Awareness on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

By: Jennifer C. Yates


Pancreatic cancer has traditionally been one of the most difficult cancers to treat because of where the pancreas is located in the body. However, being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was, according to doctors at UPMC CancerCenter.

Tomorrow marks World Pancreatic Cancer Day, a time to spread awareness about the disease, treatments and the need to support research into this devastating disease. Employees at the Hillman Cancer Center are encouraged to wear purple Friday, the color of pancreatic cancer awareness, and participate in a basket raffle. Officials from the National Pancreas Foundation, the Pancreatic Action Network and the American Cancer Foundation will also be on hand at the Hillman to provide information about pancreatic cancer.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, about 2,100 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Pennsylvania in 2012, the most recent statistics available. Of those, 233 were in Allegheny County. UPMC CancerCenter, partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, treats as many as 500 pancreatic cancer patients every year through its multidisciplinary clinic, which includes a team of specialists working together to care for patients.

UPMC is also a leader in robotic pancreatic surgery in the U.S.

“We do more of these surgeries than any other center in the country. This technology allows  the patient to undergo chemotherapy first and then have surgery with a shorter hospital stay, less bleeding and better outcomes,” said Amer Zureikat, M.D., one of a group of surgical oncologists dedicated to treating pancreatic cancer.

The team works closely with patients to tailor a treatment approach that is unique to each person. Patients here also have access to clinical trials, where they can receive the latest  treatments available.

“Awareness and education are critical steps in growing the committed team of researchers, clinicians, patients and patient advocates in the fight against pancreatic cancer,” said Patter Birisic, co-founder of the National Pancreas Foundation. “Since 1997, the National Pancreas Foundation and UPMC have been working together to increase research funding and improve the pancreatic cancer survival rate. “

For more information, contact the UPMC Pancreatic Cancer Center.