I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year’s Pancreas Fest in Pittsburgh. It was a privilege to listen to the some of the top pancreas specialists and hear what is coming down the pipes in the form of research and treatments.
Pancreatitis is a complex disease for patients as well as doctors. To hear they are looking at a streamlined genetic test that could be offered to all patients at a reasonable price was encouraging. It was comforting to know that our doctors and GI’s genuinely have our best interest at heart, whether it is intervening earlier in the disease process, effective pain control, or better diagnostics.
As a patient, I was excited to see so many with a genuine interest in making our lives better, acknowledging the role genetics can play in our disease process and treatment. I am sure we have all heard about alcohol and smoking at one point in our treatment, however this was the first time I have heard a specialist say that once diagnosed, if you continue to smoke, it will rapidly increase the disease process in your pancreas, making it worse. I have never heard it put as forcefully before. (Although I am sure others have). Even though I have never been a smoker, I have had others ask me what the effect really is, as they downplay the role smoking plays in their disease.
As a result of attending this conference, I am encouraged for what the future holds for pancreatitis patients. A dedicated group of specialists working towards making our lives better. There is HOPE!