Huntsman Cancer Institute looks for new ways to fight pancreatic cancer

The Huntsman Cancer Institute is focusing on finding new strategies for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, said Dr. Sean Mulvihill, senior director of clinical affairs at the HCI.

Speaking as part of the HCI Director’s Series on Sept. 28, Mulvihill said that clinical trials are being done on a new screening process that looks at lymphocytes in DNA. Studies have shown that lymphocytes with pancreatic cancer look significantly different from how they do in control subjects.

The oncology team is also working on better understanding the biology of pancreatic tumors by experimenting with lab rats that have been injected with the cancer and the cancer cells.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for 2 percent of all new invasive cancer diagnoses but has the highest fatality rate, killing more than 15,000 people each year.

“We don’t have that many cases, but in the cases we have, most of them die,” Mulvihill said.

“I thought the lecture was very exciting,” said Barbara Graves, chairwoman of the department of ontological sciences.

The Director’s Series invites a new speaker every Wednesday during the Fall and Spring Semesters.

The HCI and Hospital are ranked in the 97th percentile of all U.S. hospitals for patient satisfaction. More than 3,200 patients a year are treated at the U.

This success is attributed to the staff’s multidisciplinary approach and its focus on working as a team, Mulvihill said.

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