Ingalls Enrolling Patients

In National Pancreatic Cancer Study

Pancreatic cancer has made national headlines several times this year, with ongoing news of actor Patrick Swayze’s very public battle with the disease and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s recent diagnosis in February.

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly, with less than 20 percent of patients surviving five years after their initial diagnosis. To extend life and improve quality of life, patients are often encouraged to participate in clinical research studies like those available at Ingalls to receive newer – and potentially more effective – therapies.

“The perception is that clinical research studies are available only at major academic medical centers,” explains Patricia Gowland, R.N., B.S.N., O.C.N., C.C.R.C., director of the Ingalls Cancer Research Center.

“But that’s not the case. Ingalls is affiliated with more clinical trials than any other cancer program in the area.”

In fact, Ingalls is one of only two hospitals in Illinois (and fewer than 50 in the nation) currently enrolling patients with advanced metastatic cancer of the pancreas in a Phase II study.

The first part of the trial, already completed, was designed to determine the safety, tolerability and maximum tolerated dose of one of the targeted therapies when combined with a standard drug for pancreatic cancer. The randomized Phase II portion will determine the effectiveness and safety of both targeted therapies or a placebo when given with the standard dose of the drug.

To be eligible, participants must be 18 years or older, with untreated Stage 4 metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. Participants must also have acceptable bone marrow, liver functions, and kidney functions.

A 77-year-old Harvey women currently enrolled in the Ingalls study (who preferred not to be identified in this article) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last October. Following two stent procedures of the pancreas, she enrolled in the clinical trial in January.

Though she says she has “good days and bad days,” she is hopeful.

“I’m still driving and able to function on my own,” she said.

“And a recent CT scan showed that my cancer has not grown or spread. I live in hope and tell my family and friends to do the same.”

About Pancreatic Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 38,000 will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and 34,000 will die from it.

It is sometimes called a “silent disease” because symptoms don’t often appear until the disease is advanced. Symptoms may include:

  • Upper abdominal or upper back pain
  • Yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

These symptoms, however, are not sure signs of pancreatic cancer. An infection or other condition may also be the cause. Contact your doctor right away if you have these symptoms.

For more information about cancer clinical trials available at Ingalls, call the dedicated cancer research hotline at 708.915.HOPE (4673).

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