'Killing Fields' Photographer Squares Off Against Cancer

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"[This is] promising in two senses," Talamonti said. "One, that clinically relevant research is being conducted in this disease, and two, that some differences in treatments is actually being demonstrated, considering the historically pessimistic outlook regarding treatment effectiveness for pancreatic cancer."

Dith and Swayze may even benefit from some of the strides that have been made in the treatment of the disease in the last two decades. And their continuing battle could bring more attention to a cancer that affects the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

"It's a frightening disease ... but we are better right now at tailoring appropriate treatment to individuals," he said. "We're better able to provide the right treatment for the right patient.

"We've made a lot of progress in the past 20 years."

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