WLWT, Local 12: Jerry Springer's death puts pancreatic cancer, called a silent killer, under microscope

UC expert says UC labs are working to increase survival rates

The recent death of former Cincinnati mayor and talk show host Jerry Springer is bringing pancreatic cancer into the spotlight. WLWT-TV interviewed Syed Ahmad, MD, Chief, Section of Surgical Oncology, Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at the UC College of Medicine about the disease.

"The pancreas is upper abdomen, behind the stomach. So it's right here," Dr. Syed Ahmad said, moving his hands across the middle section of his upper body. "So when patients develop abdominal pain, it’s usually right here, radiating to the back."

He said pain that radiates from the abdomen to a person's back could signal a case of pancreatic cancer.

Syed Ahmad, MD, Chief, Section of Surgical Oncology; Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research

Syed Ahmad, MD, Chief, Section of Surgical Oncology; Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Marketing + Brand

"It's a silent cancer, and that's why it's a bad cancer," said Ahmad, who also serves as codirector of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. "Unfortunately, pancreas cancer does not get diagnosed until later stages because it remains asymptomatic until it gets to the later stages."

Ahmad and his colleagues are doing research on pancreatic cancer in multiple labs, and they're using screening programs to check people who have a family history of the disease. Their goal is to significantly boost the disease's survival rate.

"We have labs looking at how the pancreas cancer cells survive, how they multiply and spread and ways to stop it," Ahmad said. "It's one of the most deadly cancers that we treat."

See the entire story here.

WLWT-TV reported that doctors are working to learn more specifics about what causes pancreatic cancer. One of the biggest causes, according to Ahmad, is smoking cigarettes.

Davendra Sohal, MD, associate director of clinical research at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, spoke about pancreatic cancer research with Local 12. 

“There has been success in one category or sub-type of KRAS mutations in the tumor," Sohal said. "There are many KRAS mutations in pancreatic cancer. Almost all of it has it, and that has been targeted. We have scientists in the lab here working on KRAS pathways, as well as clinical trials for patients."

Watch the Local 12 story.

Lead image of Jerry Springer/Chris Williamson/Getty Images

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