In July 2018, I attended Pancreasfest (CAPER) in Pittsburgh, PA. This is the type of symposium that chronically ill people hope and pray that their medical professionals attend. It is a meeting of the minds some of the best and brightest in the field.
There is no cure for pancreatitis. It is a progressive disease that puzzles even the most educated and well informed medical professionals. Nevertheless, during this conference, I heard medical doctors make presentations based on scientific research on all things related. More importantly, I heard them saying that they need to do more, study more, research more, collaborate more, and more, and more, and more.
They need new specialists. There was a call for a specialist titled “Pancreatologist”. There was a brief session dedicated to this topic where a seasoned medical specialist explained to those in the crowd who are in the beginning stages of their careers, the urgency for this position in the role of medicine. He explained the urgency for this emerging role in helping the many patients suffering pancreatic disease.
Pancreatitis is very difficult to diagnose, hard to treat and symptoms/characteristics of the disease are difficult for medical professionals to agree upon. On a couple of occasions during the symposium, I heard a doctor describe Louis Pasteur’s “The Germ Theory” as the trusty paradigm that doctors have used for centuries to problem solve and help them make diagnoses. Regarding pancreatitis and some aspects of pancreatic cancer…this paradigm is described as having failed. Medical professionals can no longer trust this paradigm.
They need new tools. “Precision Medicine”, this is the new paradigm described as the future of pancreatic care and it encompasses a whole new way of thinking. It requires everyone involved working together including medical and non-medical, technology i.e. using one’s mobile phone to take pictures of poop and send to the doctor (you read that right, patients should take pictures of their poop and send electronically to their doctor), digital therapeutics, etc.
It is my hope that these medical professionals do not lose their focus or passion and they become wiser in the puzzle of pancreatic disease.