Friday, March 20, 2009

Lower Survival Rate for Obese Pancreatic Cancer Patients

In a recent study published in the Archives of Surgery, researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have found that obese (BMI >35) pancreatic cancer patients have a 12 times greater risk that their cancer will spread to the lymph nodes than those with a lower body mass index (BMI). This means that their chance at surviving pancreatic cancer is lowered because by the time the cancer is diagnosed and the patient is scheduled for surgery, it has already spread, making it less likely that the surgery will be successful. Researchers believe that pancreatic cancer spreads so rapidly to the lymph nodes because of a difference in the way cancer grows in extremely overweight patients, almost doubling their chances that their pancreatic cancer will return after surgery or cause death. According to the National Cancer Institute, pancreatic cancer is the is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the United States because symptoms do not usually present themselves until the cancer has already spread.

Lead author Jason B. Fleming, M.D. and his colleagues observed 285 pancreatic cancer patients that underwent surgery to remove either all or some of their pancreas. Of the entire group, 20 patients were considered to be obese, with a BMI greater than 35. What the researchers found was that while study participants with a BMI less than 23 lived for a median of 27.4 months after surgery, the obese participants with a BMI over 35 only survived for 13.2 months, a difference in median of 14.2 months. When the researchers evaluated the group for the last time, they found that the pancreatic cancer had recurred in 95 percent of the obese patients, while only 61 percent of patients with a BMI under 35 saw their cancer return. In addition, 75 percent of the obese study participants had died by the final follow-up, while only about 52 percent of the rest of the participants had died, making it clear that the obese group was much less likely to survive their pancreatic cancer. The tumors found in obese patients tended to be larger, making it less likely that those patients would undergo either radiation or chemotherapy prior to having surgery.

The researchers also reported that the group with a BMI over 35 did not have a higher rate of death or recurring cancer as a result of complications with their surgery as a result of excess weight or their quality of medical care. If you or a loved one has questions regarding the medical care received for cancer or some other condition, contact the malpractice attorneys at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. Our experienced attorneys serve clients with Queens medical malpractice, Bronx medical malpractice, Brooklyn medical malpractice, Manhattan medical malpractice, Nassau medical malpractice and Suffolk medical malpractice cases. Call today for a free consultation.

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