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Health & Fit This Is Why Pancreatic Cancer Is So Hard to Treat

08:10  11 october  2019
08:10  11 october  2019 Source:   rd.com

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The main reason is that pancreatic cancer has proven very difficult to treat compared with many other, more common types of cancer . Pancreatic cancer is especially aggressive and its location makes it easy for it to spread into adjacent structures and organs such as the liver or stomach.

Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat largely because the early signs are vague, the cancer is highly aggressive, and no screening test exists yet. But the future is starting to look hopeful. Africa Studio/Shutterstock. When Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced that he has late-stage pancreatic

When Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek announced that he has late-stage pancreatic cancer in March 2019, his fans were stunned. The cancer is incredibly tough to beat, and although Trebek was initially optimistic, he now admits taping the show is more challenging. He'll keep filming as long as his skills don't diminish, but they've started diminishing, he told CTV. "The thought of the pancreatic cancer doesn't frighten me," he says. "I'm 79 years old. So, hey, I've lived a good life, a full life, and I'm nearing the end of that life. I know that."

  This Is Why Pancreatic Cancer Is So Hard to Treat © Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Pancreatic cancer is a stealthy and often lethal opponent. It is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States with a five-year survival rate of just 9 percent, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan). Other notable people who have succumbed to pancreatic cancer include Michael Landon, Steve Jobs, and Patrick Swayze. There are people who you didn't know survived cancer before 30.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg treated for pancreatic cancer

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg treated for pancreatic cancer Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been treated for pancreatic cancer in New York City, the Supreme Court announced Friday. © Allison Shelley/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women's History Month reception hosted by Pelosi in the U.S. capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. This year's event honored the women Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly in part because of its location: deep in the abdomen and adjacent to other vital organs. This gland generates enzymes that help your digestion and hormones that control blood-sugar levels. When a tumor forms in the pancreas , it can easily spread to other parts of the body.

One reason is that the 'wound'-like tissue that surrounds the tumors, called stroma, is so dense, likely preventing cancer -killing drugs from reaching the tumor. Researchers have moved an important step closer to understanding why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat .

Pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly in part because of its location: deep in the abdomen and adjacent to other vital organs. This gland generates enzymes that help your digestion and hormones that control blood sugar levels. When a tumor forms in the pancreas, it can easily spread to other parts of the body. "Pancreatic cancer tumor cells are extremely resilient and aggressive. Even small tumors are likely to have spread to other organs by the time we make a diagnosis," explains Timothy Donahue, MD, chief of the division of surgical oncology and professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Pancreatic cancer: Here's why it's so deadly

Pancreatic cancer: Here's why it's so deadly Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, after lung and colorectal cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. © Shutterstock This year, an estimated 56,770 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed and an estimated 45,750 deaths from pancreatic cancer will occur across the nation, according to the American Cancer Society. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Dr. Anirban Maitra on MD Anderson Cancer Center speaks on " Why is Pancreatic Cancer so Hard to Treat & What Can We Do About It?" at the 13th Annual

[subs included] Discovery of distinct cell types helps explain why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat .

More than 56,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019, according to PanCan. According to the group, risk factors include long-standing diabetes, chronic and hereditary pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), smoking, advanced age, obesity, and a diet that is high in red and processed meats.

"The early signs of pancreatic cancer are somewhat vague and don't necessarily prompt a work-up by a doctor," says Dr. Donahue. The list of symptoms includes abdominal or back pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, or nausea. Jaundice—yellowing of the skin—can be a sign if the tumor blocks the bile duct at the head of the pancreas. These are just some of the pancreatic cancer signs to watch out for.

Still, it's not all doom and gloom, says Nathan Bahary, MD, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a medical oncologist and hematologist at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, where he also serves as the medical director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center. "Survival is now 9 percent, up from 4 percent. That's progress."

Here's Why Pancreatic Cancer Is Hard To Treat

Here's Why Pancreatic Cancer Is Hard To Treat Pancreatic cancer is one cancer type that is incredibly hard to treat, and now scientists know why.

On World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day, advocates are working to bring attention to this especially deadly disease. "One of the things that makes it really tough is that there is no early detection method. So by the time it's diagnosed it's late stage and difficult to treat ," Julie Fleshman

In the dense stromal tissue that envelops pancreatic tumors, Tuveson and colleagues have discovered two varieties of a cell type called fibroblasts which help Researchers have moved an important step closer to understanding why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat . With a median survival of only 6

This cancer may also be linked to a genetic mutation in the BRCA genes, similar to breast cancer. That means it may respond to directed treatments. One targeted therapy—Lynparza (olaparib)—performed well in a preliminary study of 154 people with a BRCA mutation. "This is promising," Dr. Donohue adds.

Cancer specialists are also experimenting with chemotherapy combinations and treating the cancer before surgery, says Dr. Bahary. "In the next five years, I hope we will double the survival rate, and in ten to 20 years, I hope we find a way to detect it early and find better ways to treat spreading disease," he says. "I am very hopeful that—with people like Alex Trebek speaking out—it will lead to more funding and more cooperation between institutions, and from there, we will make progress." The 50 best cancer hospitals in America are making strides with the latest treatments and newest facilities.

Related video: Host Alex Trebek says he's 'nearing the end' of his life amid cancer complications (Provided by Yahoo News)

What Is Pancreatic Cancer? .
Some growths in the pancreas are simply benign, while others might become cancer over time if left untreated.Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a less common type and are discussed in Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors.

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