NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s new hope for people with deadly pancreatic cancer, like Alex Trebek.
Researchers in Pittsburgh are testing a promising new method to treat the disease by delivering hi-dose chemo just to the tumor, sparing the rest of the body.
Darlene Bossola was stunned last year when she learned she had pancreatic cancer.
“Shocking, because I’ve always been healthy,” she said.
The mother of three, who’s married to her high school sweetheart, made a decision early on to fight her diagnosis. She enrolled in a clinical trial at University Pittsburgh Medical Center without any hesitation.
“No. None whatsoever. When you’re diagnosed with stage three, you want something to happen, for the better,” she said.
Before the trial began, Darleene received the standard treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. Then in February, she began the first of eight experimental treatments where doctors bring a catheter up into the pancreas.
“We… bathe the tumor with chemotherapy directly to the tumor, without having to go through the bloodstream,” said Dr. Paula Novelli, UPMC Interventional Radiologist.
Dr. Novelli says the results from the trial are promising, especially since pancreatic cancer usually isn’t diagnosed until it’s already far advanced.
“We’re seeing survival from 16-23 months and counting,” Dr. Novelli said.
Doctors say Darlnee has had remarkable success.
“Her tumor is moving away from the blood vessels and vital structures. We’re absolutely not only pleased but amazed with her results at this point,” Dr. Novelli said.
“I have been feeling good my entire process. I’ve not had any ill effects like nausea, the only affect I’ve had is fatigue,” Darleene said.
Doctors will continue to monitor her progress. Meanwhile, they hope more patients will consider participating in the trial.
Thirty hospital groups are taking part in the new study.