September 21, 2009

New Hope For Early Diagnosis Of Pancreatic Cancer?

Does this article in Scientific American give us false hope, or could it be that at last researchers may be onto a way to detect symptoms of early stages of pancreatic cancer early enough to make a difference?

"The failure to detect pancreatic cancer until after it has progressed to a fatal stage has long been the bane of doctors and the demise of patients. Imaging the out-of-the-way organ with MRI or CT scans often fails to catch tumors and, so far, there are no reliable blood-based markers for the disease.

For most patients--including actor Patrick Swayze, who died this week as a result of this aggressive malignancy--abdominal pain, weight loss and jaundice are the disease's first indicators, and their onset usually occurs after the cancer has metastasized, erasing any possible benefit of surgery.

Approximately 42,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. Nearly all of them will succumb to the disease, 76 percent within the first year after diagnosis. Swayze managed to battle his cancer for 20 months, 12 more than the median survival time.

New hope for improved detection comes in the form of small RNA molecules called microRNAs. For pancreatic cancer, scientists have catalogued dozens of microRNAs whose levels are different than in healthy samples. Even if measuring microRNAs does not turn out to be sensitive enough for general screening, it would arm doctors with a great tool for screening at-risk individuals."

When a celebrity passes away, we the public feel we should be privy to any and all of the private pain and agony suffered throughout the illness. Just as in the case of Michael Landon, when Patrick Swayze's body could no longer fight the cancer in his pancreas, he left his body behind.

The hope that the article in Scientific American gives me is personal. My son-in-law spoke of pain in his lower back when we were all together for Thanksgiving. I told him that sounded like a kidney problem and suggested he see a doctor soon. He was a big strapping, handsome, athletic, intelligent young man. He and my daughter were expecting their first child. The baby was born the end of March, and three months later my son-in-law passed away. He had lost weight and had little energy and was unable to work at the time his son was born. That was seventeen years ago. He was twenty nine years old. Every time I read about someone in the public eye who loses the battle with pancreatic cancer, I hurt so much for their family and for thousands of others whose names are not known publicly but who are dying of this horrible disease, and their families. I know the researchers are working hard to eliminate all cancer, and I want so desperately to see the end of cancer in my lifetime.


Ronda Laveen said...


lisleman said...

thanks for this post. So sad about your son-in-law. ONLY 29.

My mother passed away because of pancreatic cancer. She was in her late 60's which is young in today's life averages.

all the best.

Margie said...

New hope... I so hope!
Pancreatic cancer is a horrible disease and takes so many lives.
It's so sad that your son-in-law lost his life to this cancer at such a young age ... it must have been so hard for your daughter.
So sorry for his loss!
May his memory always be a blessing!

Thank you for the post.


4evernite said...

It would be so wonderful if a cure could be found. Sorry to know your family lost someone to this tragic illness.

otin said...

I skipped most of this and I will tell you why! I am a major hypochondriac. By the time that I would finish reading about it, I would have it! Trust me! A man has got to know his limitations. LOL!

Sunshine said...

Hi Technobabe.. Thanks for sharing the post with us... God bless You

SandyCarlson said...

This was interesting. Thanks for the new info.

Brian Miller said...

i am with you. my dad has skin cancer, my uncle has colon cancer...i could do a pretty extensive list. we need a cure.

A Free Man said...

There won't be a cure for cancer in your lifetime. That's because 'cancer' is a whole spectrum of different diseases. BUT, there will be a lot of improvements in early diagnosis (the key), treatment and palliative care. Absolutely.

Hilary said...

It will be a fine day when a cure for cancer is announced. I'm sorry for the loss of your son in law. He was so young.

Big Dave T said...

It's supposed to be rare, but it seems like everyone knows somebody who has died from it. My uncle did some years ago.

Anybody who saw Randy Pausch's last lecture can't help but be touched by those affected by this disease. I agree that 29 is way too young to be afflicted by this. It almost angers me that we spend SO much money on cancer research and don't even seem to be getting any closer to a cure.

Owen said...

With all the almost miraculous progress made in medicine over the past century or two, there are still many areas where little is understood... I have had perhaps closer exposure to this than some because my father has been doing medical research for the past nearly 50 years, and continues his work at age 80 as a professor emeritus at the school where he taught medicine. Researchers are in sore need of funding, it is often terribly difficult to get funded for even very valid research projects. Cancer cases are projected to increase in coming years from what I gather, which, in light of all the known and suspected carcinogens in our environments, is not all that surprising... We need a cleaner, more natural world to live in for starters...

Marguerite said...

So sorry for your loss. It's been 13 years since I lost my only brother to pancreatic cancer. He was 48. I understand and am hoping that this new detection method will help to save lives.
Thanks so much for visiting and for your kind comments!