My doctor is recommending I get the Whipple procedure. Is it an effective treatment for my ampullary cancer? And, what is it?

By: Dr. Thomas Incledon #

My doctor is recommending I get the Whipple procedure. Is it an effective treatment for my ampullary cancer? And, what is it?

The Whipple procedure or a pancreaticoduodenectomy is a surgery that removes the head of the pancreas, as well as the first part of the small intestine, gallbladder, and bile ducts. All these body parts are involved in digestion, so the surgeon will reattach the rest of the body parts, so people can still eat, digest food, and filter out waste.

“While there are risks with the procedure, as with any surgery, the survival rates are much better than they used to be with the Whipple procedure,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder and CEO of Causenta. “Patients also have to weigh the benefits with the risk for their particular case.” He notes that for many patients with ampullary cancer, if they do not have the Whipple procedure, they will likely die sooner than if they had done it.

Research shows that having the Whipple procedure improves the 5-year survival rate for those with ampullary cancer by 25%. However, there are some limitations to the procedure taking it off the table as a treatment option for certain patients. For the surgery to be effective, a person’s ampullary cancer must be clustered or focused in this area. Usually, this means the cancer was detected early. In these cases, surgery can be a good option because it removes the cancer from the body immediately. Incledon cautions that patients should be sure their blood is tested for any ampullary cancer cells that may remain in the body following surgery.

“If the cancer is already in the blood, surgery is not an appropriate first treatment,” says Incledon. “In those cases, doctors may do a Whipple procedure as a secondary strategy once the sign of cancer in the blood is gone.” Whether used as an initial or follow-up strategy, Incledon recommends thinking of the Whipple procedure as part of a treatment plan, not THE treatment plan.

With this in mind, there are other treatment options for ampullary cancer. Traditionally, these are chemotherapy and radiation. At Causenta, they also look at each patient’s vitamin and mineral status to provide additional naturopathic strategies that can fight the cancer and improve quality of life.

Incledon also stresses the importance of exercise for cancer patients. “Being active helps your immune system do a better job fighting the cancer,” he explains. While the FDA does not yet recognize physical therapy and exercise as strategies for fighting cancer, at Causenta, they are seeing results. “We are masters at this,” says Incledon. “We can tell if the regiment you are on is having a positive effect on markers in your blood that we know are signs of your health.” Before you begin treatment at Causenta, they test your blood, then you do therapy – traditional medical treatment as well as exercise and physical therapies. Then, they test again to know what works for each patient. “We really focus on the individual and on testing as we go so that we can shift gears as needed to provide the best results for our patients.”

For more information about ampullary cancer and treatment at Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.  

About the Author

At Causenta, we recognize that no two patients are alike. Our approach is unique in that we specialize treatment for each patient based on extensive testing. For over 17 years, our team of experienced and highly trained doctors have combined traditional medicine and alternative therapies to provide the highest quality care. Here you’ll find the latest technologies and a state-of-the-art facility combined with treatment protocols not found anywhere else in the world. Causenta is dedicated to strengthening both body and mind while focusing on personalized medicine to provide patients the right treatment for even the rarest conditions.

Whether you are fighting to win a gold metal in the Olympics or fighting for your life to beat cancer, Causenta is the right place for you.

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