Two and a half years ago, at age 47, Stan Vitikas went for a routine physical that turned out to be anything but routine. His pancreatic enzymes were high, and suspicious doctors ordered a CT scan, which identified some physical characteristics suggestive of pancreatic cancer.
Over the next year, he took trips to Mayo Clinic for more tests.
Finally he had a conclusive diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. He underwent complex digestive-tract surgery known as a Whipple procedure, his only hope for survival. He went through nine months of chemotherapy and radiation.
He has beaten the odds by surviving 19 months after diagnosis. For all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20 percent, and the five-year rate is 4 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
The Arizona Republic, by Luci Scott, 12-19-09