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Pancreatic cancer drug combination shows promise

PHOENIX — A recent study reveals a new combination of drugs is showing promise in fighting pancreatic cancer.

Led by Scottsdale Healthcare and Translations Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, the study reveals that pancreatic cancer patients who used both Gemcitabine and Abraxane were 59 percent more likely to increase their survival by over a year, compared to those who received only Gemcitabine. According to the same study, twice as many of the patients lived for more than two years.

Abraxane has been available for use in breast and lung cancer cases. The FDA recently approved it for use against pancreatic cancer.

Researchers still are not sure exactly how Abraxane works, but they say it has a protein that gets inside tumors and may act as a “Trojan Horse” to release chemotherapy and kill cancer cells.

Valley resident Pam Ryan believes it is working for her.

“On Nov. 10, 2012, I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to my liver,” Ryan explained.

One doctor didn’t give her much hope.

“The oncologist at the diagnosing hospital was pulling my family out into the hall and saying that I might only have three weeks,” said Ryan. “This was November of 2012, and now I’m talking to you in October of 2013.”

Ryan was one of the patients in the study and says she is now living life to the fullest.

“I feel great. I did my yoga class this morning, and I play golf,” Ryan said.

She even got a rare, but lucky, hole-in-one back on June 17.

“I would say that it [the drug combination] has definitely extended my life, and I really appreciate that,” she said.

The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.