BREAKTHROUGH: Pancreatic cancer is one of the leading causes of death in cancer patients

SPANISH doctors have performed breakthrough surgery on a patient with terminal Stage 4  pancreatic cancer for the first time in the country’s history.

Surgeons at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona successfully treated the patient who had previously been considered ‘inoperable’.

The pioneering surgery involves a new technique which punctures the tumour, penetrating through its protective ‘shield’, allowing cancerous cells to be burned away with heat.

It is the first time this advanced procedure has been used in Spain on pancreatic adenocarcinoma, inoperable with traditional techniques.

Until now patients with this aggressive form of cancer could only be offered palliative chemotherapy.

The breakthrough comes as the result of a clinical trial, called PELICAN, which is also being tested at 18 medical centres across Europe by a team of Dutch experts.

Elisabeth Pando, a doctor at the Hepatobiliary and Transplant Surgery Service, said that the trial ‘is about offering an alternative or a treatment’ for those who are usually considered inoperable.

Despite the team’s success, Pando stressed that the study is still in its early experimental phase and more time is needed to obtain definitive results.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Doctors predict that by 2019 it will be the second cause of death, while only one in five cases can be operated on.

Experts say the reason is because pancreatic tumours are usually very close to arteries and major veins.

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