Peter Wirth

Statistics:
  • 95% of patients die within 5 years.
  • 80% of patients cannot undergo surgery at the time of diagnosis because the cancer has spread too much.
  • It is estimated that 44,030 people in the US were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 37,660 people died of it (2011)
  • The median age at diagnosis is 72 and the median age at death due to pancreatic cancer is 73.

Facts:
  • Risk factors include obesity, diabetes, inflammation of the pancreas, old age, being African-American, smoking, family history, and a BRCA2 mutation.
  • Cancer comes in 4 stages:
Stage I: Cancer is confined to the pancreas.
Stage II: Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to nearby tissues and organs and may have spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage III: Cancer has spread beyond the pancreas to the major blood vessels around the pancreas and may have spread to the lymph nodes.
Stage IV: Cancer has spread to distant sites beyond the pancreas, such as the liver, lungs and the lining that surrounds your abdominal organs (peritoneum).
  • external image Pancreatic-Cancer2.jpgTypes of pancreatic cancer include:
Adenocarcinoma: cancer of the pancreatic ducts that produce digestive juices. Accounts for majority of pancreatic cancer. Sometimes called exocrine tumors.
Endocrine Cancer: Cancer that forms in the hormone-producing cells. Very rare in the pancreas.

Diagnosis:
  • An ultrasound, CT Scan, MRI, and several other tools can be used to diagnose pancreatic cancer. Some other methods have the following in common: injecting dye, using an imaging device, and an endoscope.
  • Biopsy using a needle (fine-needle aspiration) may be used to diagnose.
  • Blood test for protein CA19-9 which, at elevated levels, reveals stage of cancer.

Treatment:
  • Since pancreatic cancer is not usually found until it is very advanced, surgery is not a common option.
  • If the cancer is operable, a pancreaticoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure, is performed.
  • If the cancer has not metastasized, chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments.
  • If the cancer has metastasized, chemotherapy is usually the only treatment used.
  • With all advanced pancreatic cancers, palliative care is very important.

Symptoms:
  • Upper abdominal pain that can radiate to the back.
  • Yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Blood Clots
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Diarrhea

Risk Reduction:
  • Do not smokeexternal image pancreatic.jpg
  • Maintain healthy weight
  • Choose healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly

Resources: