UCLA surgeons honored for achievements in robotic surgery for pancreatic cancer

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of warriors in the fight against pancreatic cancer will suit up in colorful costumes for the Los Angeles Cancer Challenge at UCLA Sunday. Among those will be two young surgeons honored for their work in the treatment of this deadly disease.

The race is a festive atmosphere with a life-saving mission. The two young surgeons are walking for patients like 71-year-old Rob Bloch of Lake Hughes.

His only symptom was yellowing of the skin. His diagnosis? Pancreatic cancer. "I was going to die," Bloch said, "No doubt in my mind."

He tried to to prepare for that, but Dr. Jonathan King and Dr. Mark Girgis of the Agi Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer offered him a high-tech chance at survival.

With the help of a giant high-tech robotic computer, the doctors removed much of Bloch's tumor.

"I hate computers, but there are two computers that I do like." Bloch said, "The one where I met my wife online and the one that saved my life."

The location of the pancreas makes any surgical attempt challenging, but the surgery helped Bloch have a better chance with chemo.

"It's been 10 months or 11 months since his surgery and he has no evidence of recurrence which is fantastic," said Girgis.

While the death rates of other cancers are declining, new research shows by the year 2030, pancreatic cancer will be the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

But both doctors believe pancreatic cancer no longer has to be a death sentence.

On Sunday, Oct. 21, King and Girgis want you to join them at UCLA, because they believe a cure is within reach. "Never before in history have we had more options for treating people with pancreatic cancer," said King.

"Don't let cancer beat you," Bloch said, "You beat cancer. That is the key."
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