Tag Archives: incurable

Pancreatic cancer: New Zealand’s first treatment to prolong a patient’s life | Instant News

Miriam Walter saw the tumor in her pancreas shrank 73 percent thanks to new technology. Photo / Provided

Miriam Walter was told she would not last to see this Christmas when she was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer a year ago.

But thanks to the radical new treatment, which is benefiting the country for the first time, the 72-year-old feels “just fine” and wants to celebrate the summer with his family.

The OncoSil device, developed by an Australian medical technology company, extends and even saves patient lives and has been successfully used at Waikato Hospital three times this year to treat people with inoperable, advanced stage pancreatic cancer.

Only 8 percent of pancreatic cancer patients in New Zealand survive longer than five years and only 10 percent are diagnosed early enough for surgery – the only curative treatment.

The disease kills more than 500 Kiwis a year and is projected to become the fourth largest killer in the country by 2025.

The device, recently received regulatory approval in New Zealand, allows radiation-containing micro-particles to be injected directly into tumors via ultrasound-guided endoscopy – a form of brachytherapy.

Pancreatic cancer kills more than 500 Kiwis a year.  Image / 123rf
Pancreatic cancer kills more than 500 Kiwis a year. Image / 123rf

The full dose of radiation is released from the particles over 80 days and causes far less damage to surrounding organs than standard radiation therapy in which a beam of radiation is directed at the cancer from outside the body.

Walter said he went to the doctor when the whites of his eyes turned yellow and was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in early November.

“I was told, without any treatment, I might have about three months to live,” he said.

Walter immediately started chemotherapy and was on vacation with his family when the clinical director of gastroenterology at Waikato Hospital, Dr Frank Weilert called to tell him about OncoSil in January. At the end of that month he began receiving treatment.

“It’s just a better choice. That or do nothing and see what chemo does,” he said.

“I’m quite proud of the fact that I took the courage to be number one so that others can benefit from it.”

Walter said he had no side effects and scans showed the tumor had shrunk by 73 percent.

Since then, her tumor has remained stable as she continues chemotherapy treatment.

“Chemotherapy is what keeps me like this. I’m fine. I drive, go to the shop, go to the beach, socialize with my friends,” he said.

“It’s not all doom and gloom. Life goes on and that’s how it is.”

Weilert said that, despite its success, surgery might not have been an option for Walter because of his age and other health problems.

But two to three months after having performed the procedure on the other two patients, at least one is being considered for surgery although it is too early to make a decision, he said.

“It’s obviously very exciting to do something new. It’s more exciting because we’ve seen great results,” Weilert said.

The history of pancreatic cancer is so “dire” that patients usually present with advanced disease and few are offered surgery.

“For pancreatic cancer, this is a very promising technology that will give hope to patients who have little hope when you get this diagnosis. You get this diagnosis and you often plan your last Christmas. It’s very, very devastating.”

Trials have shown the treatment reduces tumors to an operable size in a quarter of patients and 20 percent of patients receive surgery to completely remove the tumor, he said.

Weilert, the only doctor in New Zealand to use the device, said the new treatment offered a possible cure or at least an extension of life for patients who were, on average, given six months to live after diagnosis.

“This gives our patients more hope than we have recently had with such devastating cancer,” he said.

“The interesting thing about OncoSil is the beta radiation so it doesn’t emit too far from where the device is being sent, preventing additional damage.”

He said patients treated so far in New Zealand, including Walter, have shown few side effects and they are consistent with the chemotherapy they have received.

Miram Walter, with her husband John Walter and their family earlier this year, celebrated the couple's golden wedding anniversary.  Photo / Provided
Miram Walter, with her husband John Walter and their family earlier this year, celebrated the couple’s golden wedding anniversary. Photo / Provided

Weilert said the device also has the potential to change the current standard of treatment by being given earlier in the treatment process because there is evidence to suggest that it increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

Gut Cancer Foundation chief executive Liam Willis said while OncoSil sounds like an interesting concept and appears to be a new approach to the delivery of radiation therapy, it is still an experimental idea that has not been fully reported.

He said it appeared safe and promising enough to take him to a phase three clinical trial that would determine if it was any better than current chemotherapy treatment and external beam radiotherapy in those with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

“The Gut Cancer Foundation does not consider this approach a new standard of care until such studies are conducted and the risks and benefits are better understood.”

Patients treated so far have received funds from the company for compassionate reasons but from now on patients will have to pay about $ 30,000 for treatment until the company can obtain it.


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Dual Pandemic: Black Americans Face Two Deadly Viruses Hitting Together | Instant News

(Photo: Reuters) General Surgeon Jerome Adams raised his inhaler as President Donald Trump watched during the coronavirus daily response briefing in Washington

When AIDS first invaded the black community in the late 1980s, it only started as a strange-sounding disease that only other people get. Then suddenly, the virus attacks black people with such ferocity that many victims begin to die alone and separated from their families. Health workers are confused because the virus cannot be stopped.

That’s how Perneessa Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm in Gilead, Inc., described AIDS during that time when she worked as an immunologist at Harlem Hospital.

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, the same pattern is clearly visible when the virus attacks Chicago, New York, Detroit, New Orleans, and other places in the United States. For black people who are more likely to die of HIV / AIDS than other groups in the US, it feels like a double pandemic, because both viruses attack at once.

“This corona virus is dangerous, and relentless. It doesn’t matter if you have HIV. It will fight HIV for you – two viruses to control your death,” Seele said.

The dual pandemic thinking that occurred in the black community caused some black activists and health officials to shudder. Although, it is still too early to know how many people with HIV die from COVID-19.

This makes COVID-19 even more scary because it adds another devastating burden, according to Gregorio Millett, vice president and director of public policy for amfAR.

Read: COVID-19 Patients are more likely to die in the US with higher levels of air pollution

It seems that when white people catch a cold, black people get pneumonia; and every time a disease afflicts America, black people will get worse disease. That is a popular saying in the black community that reveals historical patterns.

Black people more likely than other American groups to have health problems like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Also, they are more likely to live in poverty and have lower access to health insurance, according to statistics. It’s no wonder why they don’t trust healthcare providers any more.

This explains why 42% of new HIV cases in the United States in 2018 also come from the black community even though they only make up 13% of the US population, according to the CDC.

Fortunately, people living with HIV live longer due to advances in care and treatment. However, many black people cannot afford the treatment. This is one of the many reasons along with the underlying health condition why many victims are black coronaviruses.

In Chicago, 30% of the population consists of black Americans but consists of 72% of COVID-19 patients who die of the virus.

Compared to HIV / AIDS, there are several reasons for optimism about stopping the spread of the corona virus in the black community.

For example, stigma has been attached to victims of HIV / AIDS, especially during the 1980s. But not in people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Many people from the black community contracted the corona virus because most of them held service jobs as grocery store employees, bus drivers, or nurse aids. Americans today praise them because they do not have the opportunity to work from home.

Moreover, many public health officials are leading the fight against the pandemic including Dr. Anthony Fauci, is the same person who helped reduce the death rate from AIDS.

Also Read: Breakthrough: Coronavirus Blood Victim Helps Patients Get Out of Ventilator in Just Two Days!

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