Clinical Research Successful for Pancreatic Cancer

Comprehensive Cancer Centers treats patients with pancreatic cancer.  As the disease is one that is particularly challenging, when patient outcomes are successful, the practice is proud of the care team who made that outcome possible, as well as the patient whose courage during treatment was rewarded.

Meet Cynthia

A recent patient of the oncology practice with one such success story with pancreatic cancer is found in Cynthia Gilbert, a retired paralegal and grandmother of six grandsons. Cynthia is receiving life-saving treatment on a groundbreaking clinical trial at Comprehensive Cancer Centers with her story recently shared in an KSNV News 3 Research Spotlight feature.

During a routine physical in early 2020, Cynthia’s doctor noticed two lymph nodes in her neck were swollen. After a few tests and an ultrasound, her doctors discovered breast cancer. However, after additional testing, her breasts were cleared, and a starker diagnosis was given.

In June 2020, Cynthia was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 560 Nevadans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Additionally, an estimated 420 Nevadans will die from pancreatic cancer this year.

The most common type of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, occurs when exocrine cells in the pancreas grow out of control. Exocrine cells make pancreatic enzymes that are released into the intestines to help digest foods, especially fats. Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas typically has a worse prognosis than the less common endocrine cancer, or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET).

Additionally, pancreatic cancer is usually very difficult to detect early. The pancreas’ location is deep inside the abdomen, making tumors challenging to find or feel. People usually do not have symptoms until the cancer has grown or spread to other parts of the body. As a result, there are no screenings or tests that have been shown to lower the risk of dying from pancreatic cancer.

After receiving the diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma, Cynthia faced an uphill battle. The likelihood of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body was high because the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes. She was beginning to lose hope.

However, in August of 2020, a clinical trial became available at Comprehensive for patients with pancreatic cancer. The treatment includes an infusion of Folfirinox with the study’s drug, Irinotecan, typically used for cancer treatment of the colon or rectum. Dr. Brian Vicuna, Cynthia’s medical oncologist at Comprehensive, deemed Cynthia a candidate for the trial and she began treatment.

After starting the treatment, Cynthia experienced some side effects affecting her energy, but she has since returned to spending time with friends and family, including her new grandson. In fact, her tumors have shrunk more than 70% since starting the clinical trial. Every other week, Cynthia visits Comprehensive for her treatment. As the treatment continues to work miracles, she and Dr. Vicuna have no plans to change course.

Looking to the future, Cynthia says, “It’s either give up or stay on the trial and giving up is not an option.”

Cynthia’s participation in the life-saving clinical trial will allow future patients to also receive the treatment, potentially saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives across the globe.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers has partnered with some of the world’s most recognizable research and cancer-fighting organizations, including The US Oncology Network, UCLA TRIO-US, USC, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and leading pharmaceutical companies, to offer groundbreaking research to its patients. The practice participates in more than 170 Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III clinical research studies each year and has played a role in developing more than 100 FDA-approved cancer therapies.

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

November is a month of empowerment, education and inspiration for communities far and wide who have been touched by pancreatic cancer. It is our opportunity to shine a light on this disease, to elevate our voices to raise awareness and invite others to answer our call-to-action. It is a time to educate the world by sharing our stories, raise money for research and let patients know that we will never give up.

Every day, more than 1,257 people worldwide will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and while death rates are declining for many other cancers, death rates are increasing for pancreatic cancer. Our educational resources can help you take steps to prevent this disease, seek medical interventions and educate family and friends who may be at risk.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer and those interested in cancer genetic counseling and world-class clinical research to detect and treat the disease.  To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.


The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.