World’s First Clinical Trial to Ease Pain of Cancer Patients

In Clinical Studies News by Barbara Jacoby

Dr. Yaacov Richard Lawrence, a London-born and educated doctor, is part of a unique team of Radiation Oncology specialists at Sheba Medical Center, conducting the world’s first  clinical trial and study of targeted radiation treatments into the solar plexus (the main abdominal artery), to relieve excruciating pain and prolong the lives of critically ill pancreatic cancer patients. Other members of the team include Prof. Zvi Symon, Director of Radiation Oncology and Dr. Talia Golan, Head of  Sheba’s Pancreatic Cancer Center.

Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 91% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 8% will survive more than five years. 74% of patients die within the first year of being diagnosed.

“It’s well known that pancreatic cancer patients don’t respond at all to morphine, so we have developed a different form of palliative care that can provide relief from pain, as well as the physical and mental stress associated with this type of disease, which is usually terminal,” revealed Dr. Lawrence, who is also a distinguished member of the Royal College of Physicians of London and American Association for Cancer Research. “We are delivering a solution to an unmet need for these critically ill patients. We believe that after we finish our trial/study along with other participating hospitals in the UK and USA, and publish the results, this will become the standard procedure for pancreatic cancer care all over the globe.”

According to Dr. Lawrence, some patients have described how they have been able to greatly reduce or even stop taking their pain killers. Another patient described how the pain had decreased to the point where she was able to return to her favorite activity-ballroom dancing!

How does it work? “We deliver a very high dose of radiation into the nerve. We have been doing this clinical trial and research for the past 2.5 years,” Dr. Lawrence divulged. “80% of the patients who were given this unique treatment showed a significant decrease in pain and 30% of the patients within the 80% were actually pain free. As a result, these patients were more active and mobile, which allowed them to live longer and be treated with stronger medications. It’s not a cure, but it gives them strength and hope to deal with the illness and allows doctors to fight this horrible disease in the best way they know how at this point.”