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        Pancreatic Cancer Page

Different in design in honor of Ina Hammon,
who lost her fight in May, 1999

When my Mother-in-law was diagnosed with this type of cancer, I naturally went online to try to find out more.
Unfortunately, there is very little to be found. So I decided to make a page that hopefully will help others in this position.  Some of the information here is a lot of medical
type text. I am sorry for this, but I hope you will at least gain a bit more insight into this terrible disease.

Pancreatic Cancer is the fourth most lethal of all cancers. The
prognosis is poor, as most patients with it die within a year of
being diagnosed.
Incidence of pancreatic cancer is highest in Israel, the United States, Sweden, and Canada. It is lowest in Switzerland and
Most evidence suggests it is linked to inhalation or absorption of
carcinogens that are then excreted by the pancreas.
Examples are:
Cigarette smoke (it is 3-4 times more common in smokers)
Food additives
Excessive fat and protein 9 a diet high in these induces chronic
hyperplasia of the pancreas, with increased turnovers in cells)
Industrial chemicals (beta-naphthalene, benzidine, and urea)

Tumors usually arise in the head of the pancreas. They are almost always adencarcinomas.  In this location, tumors usually obstruct the ampulla of Vater and common bile duct, and also
metastasize to the duodenum.
The adhesions then anchor the tumor to the stomach,
spine, and intestines.
Less frequently, these tumors may arise in the body and tail part of the pancreas.  When this type happens, large nodular type masses become fixed to the spine and to retropancreatic tissues.
The left kidney, suprarenal gland, spleen, and diaphragm, are then invaded, then the celiac plexis becomes involved. All this results in spleen infraction and splenic vein thrombosis. In this type of cancer, two tissue types form fibrotic nodes. Large, fatty, granular cells arise in parenchyma, and cylinder cells arise in ducts
and degenerate into cysts.
The rarest among pancreatic cancer is Islet Cell Tumors.

There are several tests that may used to help in the diagnosis.
Ultrasounds help to identify the mass but cannot tell the history of it. A computed tomography scan shows greater detail, and an MRI discloses the location and size to a greater extent.
A secretion test shows the absence of pancreatic enzymes and may suggest pancreatic duct obstruction.
Angiography shows the tumor's vascular supply.
These are just a few of many tests the doctor may want to use. Many laboratory tests may be involved as well.


This type of cancer may metastasize greatly before
being diagnosed.
Therefore, treatment rarely succeeds in curing the disease. Most of the treatment includes surgery and possibly chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Whipple's operation,
(radical pancreatoduodenectomy) has a high mortality rate, but can obtain wide lymphatic clearance, except with tumors located near the portal vein and artery, superior mesentric vein and artery, and the celiac axis. This procedure is seldom used. It removes the head of the pancreas, the duodenum, portions of the body and tail of the pancreas, stomach, jejunum, pancreatic duct, and the distal portion of the bile duct.

Pancreatic cancer mostly responds poorly to chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy doesn't increase long-term survival, although it may prolong survival time from 6 month to 11 months if used as an adjunct to fluorouracil chemotherapy. It can also ease the pain
associated with nonresectable tumors.
Many medications are involved in treatment also. These may
Antibiotics, antacids, diuretics, and many more.

Pancreas Cancer Home Page

The National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry
This WHW WebRing site is owned by Strawberry Zone Pancreatic Cancer . Click for the
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