A new study may offer hope for early-stage pancreatic cancer patients in Pennsylvania. The study found that a potent four-drug chemotherapy cocktail could help certain patients live significantly longer than the current standard chemo drug. The study was conducted by the Cancer Institute of Lorraine in France.

Researchers in France and Canada recruited nearly 500 patients with early tumors on their pancreatic duct. Following surgery, they were either given a four-drug combo known as folfirinox or a single drug called Gemzar, which is the current standard treatment. Approximately three years later, nearly two-thirds of those given folfirinox were still living and almost 40 percent were cancer-free. In comparison, almost 50 percent of those given Gemzar were still living and around 20 percent were cancer-free. Cancer experts say the results represent the biggest advance in pancreatic cancer care in decades. Folfirinox is now expected to become the standard drug treatment for early-stage patients. The combo is already the standard for patients whose cancer has spread.

Around 55,000 new pancreatic cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States every year. Only 15 percent of those cases are diagnosed early enough for patients to qualify for surgery. There is no screening for the disease, and symptoms tend to appear late. These symptoms include stomach pain, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. As a result, around 50 percent of patients are diagnosed after the tumors have spread beyond the pancreas. Most die in less than a year while 6 percent survive up to five years.

A pancreatic cancer patient who has been misdiagnosed could have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation. An attorney could gather evidence proving doctor negligence and help obtain a settlement.