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New treatment shows promise in treating pancreas cancer

 Treatment with Lutathera – Study shows promise –

A new study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine shows long-term effectiveness by PRRT in treating malignant neuroendocrine tumors. The study looked at 44 cases with a median overall survival of 79 months. But with PRRT, 32% of the patients were still alive more than 12 years later.

It also has less side effects than chemotherapy allowing patients to maintain a high quality of life.

“PRRT is still a relatively new treatment. It was approved a year and a half ago,” said Dr. Dulabh Monga, a medical oncologist with Allegheny Health Network who is treating Lapisardi. “It wasn’t easy to get here because it’s a very expensive treatment. We have it now, so we’re offering it to patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors of the gut.”

Monga stresses there is more than one type of pancreatic cancer.

Lapisardi has the more rare type of tumor called pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer which comprises about 3% of cases. PRRT is used to treat that type of tumor rather than the more common form, which is more aggressive and grows faster.

How does it work?

PRRT is a more targeted type of radiation.

“That’s the nice thing about the treatment is that it delivers radiation therapy only to the neuroendocrine cells because of those receptors that it can recognize,” Monga said.

Treatment has two parts: a radioactive part and a tumor-targeted part. The tumor-targeted part helps the medication fight just the tumor cells, not your normal cells. This helps keep the medication from damaging healthy parts of your body. The radioactive part uses radiation waves of energy to damage and kill the tumor cells.

Lapisardi is the first patient to undergo PRRT at Allegheny General Hospital.

The upside to this treatment is that is has far fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

“Since it only attacks the cancer cells, it’s more targeted,” Monga said. “She said she really hasn’t had she hasn’t had any of the side effects that you normally have with chemo like the nausea and the hair loss. She said the side effects were very very minimal.”

Lapisardi has had three PRRT treatments and will get her fourth just after Christmas.

“My hair kinda thinned a bit, but I still have most of it,” she said. “I have not had nausea or any of those kinds of things. In fact, I drive home from the treatments. I do feel much better than I did before I started this treatment. Most of the time I can do anything I want. Sometimes I have to pace myself a bit because I do get tired, but it really doesn’t hinder anything that I want to do.”

Lutathera is given as an intravenous infusion.

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