New procedure gives hope to those battling pancreatic cancer

FOX 32 NEWS - Rush University Medical Center is the first hospital in the world to try a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.

It’s a cancer that is usually diagnosed at its latest stages.

Molton Turner, 75, knows he's lucky to be alive. Almost one year ago, he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Now, he is praising god and a new surgical technique for giving him a second chance.

Turner came from Washington D.C. to Rush to have the surgery done. It’s the first time this procedure has ever been used in the world. The key is a device called the ‘Canady Helios Cold Plasma Scalpel.’

Here’s how it works: once the tumor is removed, the scalpel allows a surgeon to remove the surrounding cancerous tissue and cells. It’s done at an extremely low temperature. The scalpel specifically targets cancer cells while sparing normal cells and tissue. 

Dr. Jerome Canady is one of the inventors.

"There’s most likely residual tumor microscopy, so this technology is used for where you can spray the area and eventually kill the tumor,” Candy said.

Without this procedure, doctors say Turner would have had no other options. They believe this surgical procedure and this device have already prolonged his life.

Dr. Keith Millikan of Rush University Medical Center is the first surgeon to ever perform the procedure.

"At the very least he would have died within next couple of months...with the tumor out at the very least he has a couple of good years of quality of life,” Millikan said.

Turner and his son hope his dad’s experimental surgery will eventually be able to help many others.

The patient was approved for this experimental surgery as a one-time compassionate case.

Rush University Medical Center has submitted to the NIH to get approval to start a clinical trial in hopes this technique will be able to help people with all types of cancers.