Alaska Republican candidate Scott Hawkins announced that he has pancreatic cancer, but his team of oncologists provided good prognosis in the success of his treatments.

Despite his disease, Hawkins said he will continue to run in the gubernatorial race. His diagnosis came several weeks ago and the Anchorage businessman is now undergoing therapy while maintaining his campaign schedules.

"In recent months, I learned that I am confronted by a serious adversary — cancer. Through a dedicated treatment regimen and prayer, I plan to join the tens of thousands of Alaskans who now call themselves cancer survivors," Hawkins said in a statement.

Dr. Vincent Picozzi, an oncology physician at Virginia Mason in Seattle and an internationally recognized expert in pancreatic cancer, said that Hawkins' tumor is localized and has not spread to other organs.

Picozzi noted that Hawkins' good health and the absence of other complications, together with recent treatment advances, gives him the confidence for a "full curative intent."

Dr. Stephen Liu of Alaska Oncology, who is also a part of Hawkins' medical team, said the plan is to shrink the tumor while it is still small. He added that Hawkins has been tolerating drug treatments "remarkably well," and there is a huge optimism to his cancer prognosis.

Signs And Symptoms Of Pancreatic Cancer

Experts said that pancreatic cancer often does not manifest signs or symptoms during its early stage. By the time the disease becomes symptomatic, the cancer cells have already reached outside the pancreas.

The American Cancer Society advised individuals at risk of pancreatic cancer to immediately seek a physician's advice if they have the following symptoms: jaundice, belly or back pain, unintended weight loss and poor appetite, liver or gallbladder enlargement, blood clots, and nausea and vomiting.

Treatment Options For Pancreatic Cancer

Chemotherapy has been the standard of care in the treatment of pancreatic cancer since 1997. Patients are typically prescribed with single-agent gemcitabine, a chemotherapy drug.

Recent studies concluded that drugs like oxaliplatin, irinotecan, fluorouracil, and leucovorin showed significant improvement in the overall survival compared with gemcitabine.

In a study published in the May issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, German researchers have developed a novel diagnostic and therapeutic procedure for patients with ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Ductal pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a deadly type of cancer with a poor prognosis of a 5-year survival rate of less than 5 percent.

Six patients received a treatment called 177Lu-3BP-227, which was well tolerated by all patients. One patient exhibited significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life.

"The research presented warrants further development of 177Lu-3BP-227, in order to provide patients with more effective treatment and less side effects than cytotoxic chemotherapy," said Christiane Smerling, Ph.D., head of Nuclear Medicine and Imaging at 3B Pharmaceuticals GmbH in Berlin, Germany.

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