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Symptomless patient learns he has pancreatic and stomach tumors

“I’m not a health-conscious person, but I’ve always gone to an annual physical,” says Stanley Smith, a patient treated at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “All of my doctors right now are at Piedmont and I think that’s the only place I’ve ever been to see doctors.”

At Smith’s annual physical, his primary care physician Thomas Claiborne, M.D., noticed his PSA levels were high and recommended he see urologist William Scaljon, M.D. to rule out anything serious.

Dr. Scaljon performed a biopsy of Smith’s prostate and discovered he had prostate cancer.

“He prescribed a CAT scan and body scan to determine if I had anything else,” explains Smith.

After additional testing, doctors found a tumor on Smith’s pancreas and multiple tumors in his stomach – two of which were significant. Smith went to oncologist Donald Filip, M.D., who told him that while he did not have pancreatic cancer, he had stomach cancer.

“Some of these tumors can cause you to have very bad, serious symptoms,” says Smith. “I had no symptoms whatsoever. They kept asking me about my symptoms and I said, ‘If I’ve got them, I don’t know what they are.’”

When determining his course of treatment, Smith decided to have his pancreas and stomach tumors removed.

“I said something on my pancreas is more important than my prostate because all men will eventually get prostate cancer if they live long enough,” he says. “It didn’t seem to be high-risk.”

He met with Marty Sellers, M.D., a multi-organ transplant surgeon and director of Hepatobiliary Service at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, in June of that year.

“My problem seemed pretty minor compared to a transplant, but I was glad he talked with me,” says Smith.

After meeting with Dr. Sellers, he referred back to Dr. Claiborne and Dr. Filip, who told him to go forward with the surgery.

That August, Dr. Sellers removed the tumor from Smith’s pancreas as well as two tumors from the stomach.

“I never ended up having any pain,” says Smith. “One of the things I told Dr. Sellers before the surgery, ‘I understand you’re a Ferrari mechanic and I’m a Ford problem. I don’t have any symptoms – I don’t feel bad. If I can feel 90 percent as good as I feel now in three months, I think you’ve done your job. I know it’s got to be removed because if I don’t do it, it could really be life-threatening.’”

Within two months of the successful surgery, Smith says he feels great. “I feel as good as you can feel at 65 years old,” he says. For more information about cancer treatment, visit the Piedmont Cancer Center.

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