“Any Patient, Any Time”
Experience — and compassion — counts when treating pancreatic cancer
In addition to the fear and uncertainty that come with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, patients have to cope with another burden — deciding where to go for treatment. Experience is the most important factor to consider, because treating pancreatic cancer is not a job for amateurs. Diane Simeone, M.D., surgical director of the U-M Cancer Center’s Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Tumor Clinic, recommends going to a comprehensive cancer center with surgeons, oncologists and gastroenterologists who specialize in caring for people with the disease.
“If you focus on one disease, you understand all aspects of it in greater detail and have a deeper understanding of the nuances,” says Simeone. “If an operation is required, it will be performed by a surgeon who has done the same procedure many times before.”
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment protocol for pancreatic cancer. At the Pancreatic Tumor Clinic, a multidisciplinary team of experts — including surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, researchers and a social worker — work together to design an individualized treatment plan based on the stage of the tumor and each patient’s situation.
The clinic saw 575 new patients during 2011 and there were more than 2,000 visits from patients who were either in treatment or seeking a second opinion. The clinic treats patients with pancreatitis, cystic tumors and other pancreatic diseases, in addition to cancer.