Pancreatic cancer is a notoriously difficult-to-treat condition for patients in Kentucky and across the United States. Because the cancer is so rarely diagnosed at an early stage, there is often little opportunity to treat it with surgery before it spreads to surrounding organs. However, a recent discovery presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference has highlighted a potential for increased survival for some pancreatic cancer patients.

When patients with pancreatic cancer that had been diagnosed early enough for surgery received a four-drug combination therapy known as folfirinox, they were more likely to live significantly longer than those who received the standard treatment. After three years following treatment, around 40 percent of the folfirinox patients were still disease-free, while only 20 percent of those who received the standard treatment, called Gemzar, were free of cancer. Physicians said that the discovery is likely to change the standard of care to folfirinox treatment.

Pancreatic cancer is known for being difficult to treat, especially because its symptoms like weight loss, abdominal pain and fatigue do not often appear until a later stage of development. The disease is often misdiagnosed. In addition, it often becomes impossible to treat with surgery once it spreads. Around half of all pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed following the spread of the disease, and only 6 percent of those live for five years after their diagnosis.

Mistaken diagnoses and other medical errors can be particularly significant when cancer treatment is involved. Success rates for treatment can drop precipitously when detection and diagnosis are delayed. People who have suffered negative health effects as a result of a doctor error can consult with a medical malpractice attorney about potential next steps to pursue compensation.