Barbados’ Prime Minister, David Thompson, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to his personal physician, Dr Richard Ishmael.
“On return to New York, a third biopsy was done, and this confirmed the diagnosis of Carcinoma of the Pancreas, manifesting in the form of a tumor of the pancreas,” said Dr. Ishmael in breaking the sad news to nationals during a press briefing in Barbados on Sept. 16, carried live on radio.
“The usual treatment for this condition is a pancreatico-duodenectomy (the Whipple’s operation), which entails the removal of the tumor and part of the pancreas, along with part of the intestine with re-implantation of the pancreatic duct into the small intestine,” he added.
“However, because of the position of the tumor (it was surrounded by several important blood vessels, which made its removal technically difficult), surgery was not feasible,” Dr. Ishmael added.
“And after consultations with three world renowned pancreatic surgeons, it was decided that that the best course of action was for him to undergo intense chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumor first, to enable its safe removal,” he continued.
Ishmael said after inconclusive initial tests on the Barbadian leader for complaints of abdominal pain that started in March this year, two biopsies on him were conducted at the New York Presbyterian Hospital of Columbia and Cornell Universities, stating that these also proved “non diagnostic”.
The personal physician said, so far, Thompson has had four rounds of chemotherapy, followed by repeat abdominal CT scan, “which has shown moderate shrinkage of the tumor with no new spread.”
“We were at that point when he returned to Barbados, at the end of August, with the intention of returning to New York in three weeks for another round of chemotherapy. followed by repeat CT scan and then surgery if feasible,” he said.
“However, last week Sunday, after having been quite well for the entire week performing his duties as Prime Minister, having chaired Cabinet and having had a number of meetings during the week, he developed intense abdominal pain and vomiting,” Dr. Ishmael added.
He said an urgent CT scan of the abdomen revealed that Thompson had developed thrombus (clot) in the veins surrounding and traversing the pancreas.
“After consulting with my colleagues at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, we decided that it was in his best interest to return to New York for immediate treatment of this problem, and we left for New York the next night,” said Ishmael, disclosing that Thompson has had a number of new investigations done, and that treatment has been started to dissolve the thrombus.