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BODIES Pancreatic Cancer Anatomy

Pancreatic Cancer: The Silent Killer

10-31-11

Pancreatic cancer is one of the fastest spreading cancers and one of the deadliest with only a 4% survival rate in patients five years after the diagnosis.  Often times called the “Silent Killer” pancreatic cancer does not cause symptoms in the early stages. In the US, there are 44,000 new cases each year and 37,000 people die of the disease.

The pancreas contains two types of glands, according to Time Health. The exocrine glands produce enzymes that break down fats and proteins while the endocrine glands make hormones like insulin that regulate sugar in the blood.  Last month, Steve Jobs lost his battle to a rare form of pancreatic cancer that only affects 5% of patients, with tumors originating in the endocrine glands.

Standard treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but because of the poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer, many patients also try alternative therapies, such as the Gonzalez regimen. This involves taking pancreatic enzymes and nutritional supplements to fight the pancreatic tumors, vitamins with magnesium citrate and coffee enemas twice a day.

It is reported that Jobs did not try the Gonzalez regimen, but did subscribe to other alternative therapies.  Among these, he tried to control his diet and underwent a radiation-based hormone treatment in Switzerland.  Cancer experts are not sure if these treatments helped extend his life and were surprised that he survived years after the average pancreatic cancer patient loses their battle.


- @BodiesExhibit

Photo Courtesy of Time Health