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Home > Our Patients > Larry Sabato: High-Risk Patient Gets Reassurance and a Plan

Larry Sabato: High-Risk Patient Gets Reassurance and a Plan

Pancreatic Cancer Clinic Hopes to Extend Survival Rate

Larry Sabato: High-Risk Patient Gets Reassurance and a Plan

A political scientist, political analyst and professor, Larry Sabato is renown for predicting the outcomes of national elections. He founded Sabatos’ Crystal Ball, a publication of the University of Virginia Center for Politics that predicts electoral outcomes and analyzes America’s political scene. Political media circles have noted his success as he was referred to as “the most quoted college professor in the land” by the Wall Street Journal.

Despite his successful career, there was one thing Sabato could not predict: his father’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. With a survival rate of five percent, this grim disease is one of the deadliest cancers. Symptoms tend to show up once the disease has spread to other parts of the body, making an early diagnosis difficult. Sabato’s father discovered his condition in its later stages and only survived three months after his diagnosis. 

With an increased risk due to a family history of pancreatic cancer, Sabato was not willing to take chances with his future health. He turned to UVA’s High-Risk Pancreatic Cancer Clinic, one of the first programs in the country to closely follow patients who have key risk factors for the disease.

High-Risk Pancreatic Cancer ClinicAn image of Larry Sabato regarding his experience with the high-risk pancreatic cancer clinic.

Clinic co-founder, Reid Adams, MD, says the clinic “offers each patient an individualized screen program to detect pancreatic cancer at an early stage or before it even develops.” Opened in 2013, the clinic is already following 150 patients.

Sabato is one of those patients. He went through the screening process to check for potential risk factors and any early indications of cancer. His results detected some pancreatic irregularities, which his primary team will be carefully monitoring.

Risk factors include: pancreatic cysts, chronic pancreatitis, Peutz-Jehgers syndrome, non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), BRCA2 and familial atypical melanoma and mole syndrome (FAMM).

During the screening process, the health care team will perform a comprehensive physical exam, obtain a detailed family and personal history, and discuss behavioral risk factors like smoking, alcohol use and poor nutrition. They will also perform genetic testing if the patient is applicable. In some cases it may be necessary to perform advanced tests, like an endoscopic ultrasound and a high-resolution pancreatic MRI.

“The focus of this clinic is to detect cancers early or find pre-cancerous tumors and then be able to offer patients potentially curative surgery,” says UVA surgeon Todd Bauer, MD.

Surgery is the only cure for pancreatic cancer, if detected in its early stages. For patients needing surgery, we offer a variety of surgical options.

The clinic also provides services specific to detection and treatment of pancreatic cysts, which can develop into pancreatic cancer. Patients who go through the screening process and do not show signs of cancer are scheduled for follow-up screenings in the clinic. 

With UVA’s new tools and advances, Sabato encourages people to be proactive about their health and not wait until it’s too late. “We have to be aware of the possibilities and we have to seek the right expertise,” he says. 

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Call  434.243.5233 to make an appointment or contact highriskpancreas@virginia.edu.


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