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New Experimental Therapy Giving Hope For People With Pancreatic Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's new hope for people with pancreatic cancer, which is usually quickly fatal. It's considered one of the worst kinds of cancer because it's usually advanced and there haven't been a lot of options for treatment, but that could be changing with a new experimental therapy.

Darlene Bossola was stunned last year when she learned she had pancreatic cancer.

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"Shocking, because I've always been healthy," she said.

The mother of three, who's married to her high school sweetheart, quickly decided to fight for her life and enrolled in a clinical trial.

"When you're diagnosed with stage three, you want something to happen, for the better," Bossola said.

Before the trial began, she received the standard treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. Then she began the first of eight experimental treatments where doctors use a catheter to reach the pancreas.

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"We bathe the tumor with chemotherapy directly to the tumor, without having to go through the bloodstream," explained Dr. Paula Novelli, an interventional radiologist at UPMC.

Results from the trial have been promising so far.

"We're seeing survival from 16 to 23 months and counting," Novelli said.

Doctors say Bossola has had remarkable success.

"Her tumor is moving away from the blood vessels and vital structures," Novelli said. "We're absolutely not only pleased but amazed with her results at this point."

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"I have been feeling good my entire process," Bossola said. "I've not had any ill effects like nausea, the only affect I've had is fatigue."

Researchers are enrolling 300 patients at 30 sites in the U.S. through the end of 2021. So far, the trial has extended the lives of pancreatic patients from 14 months to 26 months.

For more information on the clinical trial, click here.

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