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Vaccine offers promise as post-surgery treatment for pancreatic cancer patients
Date:12/11/2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When Teresa Thorn started getting nausea last February, she thought it was an ulcer, something she'd had years earlier.

As the days went on, though, the nausea remained and Thorn's color started changing, something her co-workers noticed. Finally one Sunday, she and her mother, Naomi Ivester, went to the Emergency Department at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where a battery of tests began.

Her longtime physician at Wake Forest Baptist, Mary Lyles, M.D., eventually broke the news: Thorn, 53, had pancreatic cancer.

Although pancreatic cancer has the nation's highest cancer mortality rate, with just 6 percent of patients surviving five years after diagnosis, the outlook improves dramatically when the disease is diagnosed early and surgery can remove the cancerous tumor. As Thorn soon learned from Perry Shen, M.D., her cancer was operable, giving her a chance for cure.

Thorn was sent home to Rural Hall to prepare for the surgery, which would ultimately remove 30 percent of her pancreas as well as 9 inches of her small intestine and her gallbladder.

"The whole time I was home it was like I was in somebody else's life," Thorn said. "I did not believe it; all I thought about was dying. Then I met Dr. Shen. He's just very caring. He explains things to where everybody can understand – procedures and what my odds were.''

Shen, professor of general surgery and program director of surgical sciences-oncology at Wake Forest Baptist, leads weekly conferences at the Medical Center during which a multidisciplinary team of experts discusses cancer cases. Around a conference table and with a computer screen to study diagnostic images, these oncologists, radiologists and surgeons devise the best strategies for their individual patients based on current medical evidence and research.

For those with pancreatic cancer, strategies can include the latest techniques in
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SOURCE Wake Forest Baptist HealthWire
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