2014- New Hope For Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic Cancer Explained
Fast Facts - Pancreatic Cancer
- Difficult to diagnose
- Spreads very easily
- Diagnosis is often late in the disease
- Surgery is the only cure to remove the cancer
- Chemotherapy only lowers the reccurrence risk "after surgery"
- Radiation targets the tumor
- Average life expectancy is six to nine months
Links - Tests For Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
Published January 11, 2014 by Mary McShane
There are several types of pancreatic cancer
- lymphomas or unclassified types -4%
Exocrine Tumors - 95% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have adenocarcinoma, which starts in ducts of the pancreas.
Most common - Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) - starts as non-cancerous but can become cancerous if lleft untreated. It is a tumor that grows within the ducts of the pancreas and sometimes is already a cancer by the time it is diagnosed.
More rare types of exocrine pancreatic tumors
- acinar cell carcinoma
- adenosquamous carcinoma
- colloid carcinoma
- giant cell tumor
- hepatoid carcinoma
- mucinous cystic neoplasms
- serous cystadenoma
- signet ring cell carcinoma
- solid and pseudopapillary tumors
- squamous cell carcinoma
- undifferentiated carcinoma
Endocrine Tumors - also called islet cell tumors or pancreatic neuro-endocrine tumors (PNETs). Much less common than exocrine tumors. Can be functioning (making hormones) or non-functioning. A functioning neuroendocrine tumor gets its name from the hormone that the cells make:
Links - Pancreatic Cancer Treatments
- Smokers have double the risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to non smokers.
- Family history of pancreatitis,
- Family history of obesity
- Family history of diabetes
- Drinking coffee
- Drinking alcohol
Eat less fat, more fruits and vegetables and increase exercise
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
Unfortunately, by the time symptoms develop, pancreatic cancer has already begun to spread outside of the pancreas. The type of symptoms one has determines the type of pancreatic cancer that is growing.
Pancreatic cancer in the head of the pancreas (usually this type appears first)
- weight loss
- jaundice (yellow skin)
- dark urine
- light stool color
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
Pancreatic cancer in the body or tail of the pancreas - this type is consider the silent type because it occurs later making the disease harder to diagnose:
- belly and/or back pain
- weight loss
Public Service Announcement from Randy Pausch
Famous People Who Fought Pancreatic Cancer
About Pancreatic Cancer Testing & Research
I think the hardest thing to understand about Pancreatic Cancer is that it can go undetected for a long time and that by the time it is detected, it is often in advanced stages and too late for surgical intervention. It is a very aggressive cancer, one of the most lethal. Once diagnosed, researchers believe the patient has had it for as long as six months before being diagnosed.
Dr. Nita Ahuja, an associate professor of surgery in the department of oncology and urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore said in an October 2013 interview that there have been no improvements in the survival rate in the last 40 years. Over 40,000 people per year are diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and as many as that die of it each year.
In a study, Dr. Ahuja's team identified mutations in two genes, called BNC1 and ADAMST1, which are found in 97% of early stage pancreatic cancer tissues. The team developed tests to look for signs of mutations in people who were already diagnosed with the disease. The report said the test has an 81% accuracy rate and at present is only being used on patients already diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is not ready for the general population as a screening.
NEW Test for early stage pancreatic cancer
Jack Andraka is today a seventeen year old high school student who, at age 15, invented in his home basement, a test to diagnose early stage pancreatic cancer. He likens it to a fingerstick or dipstick test as you would do for sugar in the blood - diabetes.
Working with Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins Medical School, his test has proven to be 90 percent accurate in detecting mesothelin, a soluble cancer biomarker. The test claims to be 400 times more sensitive than present methods and costs about three cents as opposed to $800 for the standard test. He has a patent on the test and hopes to sell it to pharmaceutical companies to be developed as an over-the-counter test.
Jack has his naysayers who refute his claims that mesothelin is specifically a biomarker for pancreatic cancer and only a supervised trial will make believers out of them. That needs sponsors and costs money and according to Dr. Maitra, he is hopeful that a trial will come about in the very near future.
TED Presentation: Jack Andraka
The next video shows Jack Andraka at a TED Talks presentation discussing how he came to invent his test for pancreatic cancer and where he goes from here.
© Mary McShane
Jack Andraka: His New Test For Pancreatic Cancer
Final Word: From Randy Pausch's Wife, Jai
© 2014 Mary McShane