Paul Okunieff_MCM_0641

Paul Okunieff, M.D., is the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation and David B. and Leighan R. Rinker chair and serves as director of the UF Health Cancer Center and chair of the College of Medicine department of radiation oncology.

Unlike the festive and celebratory pink breast cancer awareness events during October, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November is a more subdued and introspective affair. This may be due, in part, to the very deadly nature of pancreatic cancer.It’s a frightening diagnosis and one to take seriously, but it’s not automatically terminal for every patient. Many patients can benefit from surgical removal of pancreatic cancer — the only known treatment which can provide a cure —yet, astoundingly, as many as 40 percent of these patients are never offered surgery by their doctors. Beliefs are hard to change, and the belief among doctors and patients is that pancreatic cancer cannot be survived.

I’m happy to say that isn’t the case here at UF Health. Our talented surgeons, like Dr. Steven Hughes, offer the highly specialized laparoscopic Whipple procedure, which removes pancreatic tumors using minimally invasive surgery. Our patients have access to the newest, most advanced drug treatments available only through clinical trials, like the FOLFOX-D study led by Dr. Thomas George.

The most exciting thing is that these advances mean our patients can enjoy prolonged life and even long-term survival — keeping husbands, wives, friends and family members together, longer.

Best regards,

Paul Okunieff, M.D.

Director, UF Health Cancer Center

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Fall 2014

From the director’s desk

Unlike the festive and celebratory pink breast cancer awareness events during October, Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November is a more subdued and introspective affair.

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