Your Health: Treating cancer with PRRT

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Steve Jobs and Aretha Franklin both lost their battle to what most people thought was pancreatic cancer, but the real culprit of their cancer was neuroendocrine tumors.

“It can come from any part of your body, from your lungs, from your pancreas, from your intestines,” said Dr. Eric Liu.

Symptoms can be varied and go misdiagnosed for years. In fact, 90% of neuroendocrine cancers are misdiagnosed.

“I started coming up with this very itchy rash under my skin and I have a lot of seasonal allergies in Colorado, so that’s what I maybe thought was happening,” Robert Hammer recalled.

A scan revealed he had a tumor the size of an orange on his pancreas and surgery to remove his pancreas was too risky. After several other therapies, Liu treated Hammer with a new injectable radiation called PRRT.

“The little hormone-guided missile takes it right to the tumor. The tumor absorbs the radiation,” Liu said. “And the neat thing about it is the treatment goes to every single tumor in the body.”

The radiation is given through an IV over several months. Before the radiation, Hammer was given about 10 years to live. He’s now expected to live 18-20.

On average, it takes about five years from the onset of symptoms for patients to get the right diagnosis and begin proper treatment.

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