Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is Pancreatic Cancer Treatable?

bad doctors pancreatic cancerI love reading about pancreatic cancer. Not because I find it a hopeful experience. On the contrary, reading about pancreatic cancer is very scary on many levels but it reminds me how important it is that I take care of myself to the best of my ability. My fear of pancreatic cancer motivates me to understand and respect where I am at with chronic pancreatitis.

1. Pancreatic cancer is not a curable disease.

2. There is no reliable screening test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer with symptoms that are often vague and easily confused with other diseases or illnesses. I love how the John Hopkins Pancreatic Research Center states on their website "We need to invest in the development of an effective screening test".

Please note that in the statement above the #1 hospital in the country is saying that they don't even have a way of testing people early to prevent pancreatic cancer or to try to cure it in its early stages because how can you cure it in the early stages if you can't detect it! AND THEY AREN'T EVEN DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE SCREENING TEST. Rather, they are simply stating the need to do so. YIKES!

3. John Hopkins Pancreatic Research Center website states that when caught early pancreatic cancer is treatable. But remember, they also tell us that there is no effect screening test and one needs to be developed. So, please explain how a doctor can catch it early if there isn't an effective way to screen for it?

4. The 5-year survival rate is nearly 40% when the pancreatic cancer is surgically removed whilepancreatic cancer survival rates still small and if it has not spread to the lymph nodes. Okay... now read that again. In short, the chance of living 5 years after pancreatic cancer surgery if caught early and if it has not spread is only 40%.

As you can read, the statistics of surviving pancreatic cancer - the 4th leading cause of death in both men and women - is dismal.

So why do I love reading about pancreatic cancer?

Because the process of learning is empowering!

understanding pancreatic cancerWhat if I didn't know that the doctors don't know anything about curing this disease? I'd believe them. Most doctors don't even know the basics about pancreatitis. This disease is so deadly that I do not want to put my life in the hands of someone who is and will probably incredibly ignorant about this disease for the rest of my lifetime.

The wrong information can literally kill me when it comes to my pancreas. From what I've read, it seems that most doctors just put pancreatic sufferers on heavily addictive medicines. My personal belief is that such prescriptions probably kills the patient earlier than need be. I don't want to be that patient.

I also don't want to be a guinea pig for doctors. I'd rather be my own guinea pig and try to figure out what my system is doing and why and what makes it feel better - or at least doesn't make it feel worse. Unlike doctors, I'm not overworked with little time to spend on each patient and only so much interest and tolerance to listen to their symptoms and how their body reacts.

I have nothing better to do than listen to my body tell me how it reacts to foods, liquids, etc in relation to my pancreas. For me, I care if I live or die far more than any doctor ever will. I am simply more vested in my personal longevity and health.

Having a 40% chance of living 5 years is dismal. Since I do not have pancreatic cancer but pancreas cancer survival ratemerely live with chronic pancreatitis I hope to stave off the cancer by the way I treat myself now.

I can learn and respond to what I learn. I know that acidic juices are hard on my pancreas. So I have them in very limited quantities. I know that whole milk is not something I should include in my diet anymore. So I drink non-fat milk and strive for non-fat food products, as well. I know lean meat does not hurt my pancreas as much as fatty meats. So I try to eat lean meats.

I've learned that chronic pancreatitis inevitably turns into pancreatic cancer. I also learned that a person can die from chronic pancreatitis without it first turning into cancer.

So how can all these dismal facts and hypotheses be helpful or hopeful? Because knowing how little is known about the disease allows me to learn from my body. Trust my body. And be incredibly proactive in my overall health. Hopefully, this will result in living longer with a better quality of life than if I did nothing.

pancreatic cancer death rateHonestly, the fear with doctors is that the instruction they might give could cause more harm than good and therefore actually shorten my lifespan. I'd rather leave my health in my own hands for now.

Hopefully, someday within my lifetime the doctors will figure something out that will help prolong the survival rates of those who suffer from pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis. Until then, I'll just do the best I can and enjoy life as much as possible knowing how precious each day is and how - like everyone else in this world - I won't live forever.

Eat well (in a healthy manner per your body's condition) and don't drink alcohol ever!

Additional Resources:


PANCREATIC CANCER: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment for Cancer of the Pancreas

PANCREATIC CANCER: Is There a Natural Cure for Pancreatic Cancer?


  1. They didn't find cancer in my mom till they opeanded her up and perfromed the whipple...and it wasn't a small talk to doctors about opeaning you up......some people have got the whipple even without it being a saftey precaution....

    1. I met a lady who's sister died from pancreatic cancer. Apparently, the doctors opened her up and dug around in her pancreas which the lady suspects is what actually caused the pancreatic cancer to begin with.

      I'm not too sure I'd want to be opened up as a precautionary measure. Sometimes the medical field tends to use people as experiments and while it may work for theories and hypothesis it can often be less beneficial for the actual patient.

      Thank you for your input. It's interesting to consider all options. I hope that turned out to be a benefit to your mother's health.

      Kind regards,


  2. Having the whipple surgery eliminates your opportunity to have an islet cell transplant with total pancreatectomy. I have CP too, so I totally understand the complexity of this disease, and the fear of cancer. The islet cell transplant is my only hope at this point, but unfortunately most insurance wont cover it. Having this done would erase the possiblity of pancreatic cancer, as it removes the pancreas. Also it can help relieve the pain of pancreatitis. Something to consider, but people who already have lost islet cell function due to diabetes or who have had previous pancreas surgery may not have this option available to them. Anyways, great article thanks for sharing, and wishing you pain free days in your future. :)