A frightening statistic that most people do not know enough about is the fact that nearly 40% of people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. This is compiled from data gathered between 2015 and 2017, and it goes to show that cancer is an extremely serious threat to a large portion of the population.
In the United States alone, roughly 57,000 Americans are estimated to have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020 alone. That comes out to 158 per day. Pancreatic cancer makes the top ten chart for most common forms of cancer in both men and women. Therefore, it is certainly worthy of a considerable amount of time and study. Today, we want to take a close look at precisely what pancreatic cancer is, what causes it, and the new pancreatic cancer treatment available for this terrible disease.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
What is pancreatic cancer? As the name suggests, pancreatic cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the pancreas. This is an organ in both men and women that resides just south of the stomach and looks somewhat like a fish in shape. In adults, the pancreas is about 6 inches long, but it is very narrow at no more than 2 inches wide.
The role of the pancreas in our body is to create pancreatic enzymes that help break down foods. This is necessary because the human body is designed to break down the food that we consume. However, it is not easy to do so unless all of our systems are working perfectly as designed. The pancreas is a major part of this system, and we all need our pancreas in order to survive.
What Causes Pancreatic Cancer?
Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas is the most common form of pancreatic cancer. It takes form when exocrine cells begin to grow beyond their normal capacity within the pancreas. You see, the pancreas is mostly made up of exocrine cells, to begin with, but it is meant to have some natural limitations on the growth of those cells. When they start to spiral out of control and grow beyond the norm, cancer may start to develop.
The other type of cell that is found in the pancreas is endocrine cells. These cells produce hormones like insulin and glucagon that are necessary for processes such as the regulation of your blood sugar level. Though they are much smaller in number, it is possible that endocrine cells are what will form cancer in your pancreas. In the event that you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it is exceedingly important that you know if you are dealing with cancer that forms in the endocrine or exocrine cells. These types of cancers are treated in different ways.
One sign of pancreatic cancer is jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin.1 Other symptoms include abdominal pain, loss of appetite, bowel changes, etc. If the cancer is localized, the 5-year relative survival rate is 43.9% but decreases to 3.1% for those in the final stages of pancreatic cancer.2
Ablation for Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
The use of ablation for the new treatments for pancreatic cancer is on the rise. The aggressive nature of metastatic pancreatic cancer means that most patients will search high and low to find the treatment options that will work best for them. Ablation refers to the use of extreme temperatures to destroy cancer cells. It is generally only used when the cancerous pancreatic tumor is no larger than one inch across. Thus, the use of ablation is generally only possible when pancreatic cancer is caught in its earliest stages. Due to its aggressive nature, metastatic pancreatic cancer often produces tumors that grow rapidly in many sufferers. Thus, ablation may be a frontline approach to attempt to stave off growing pancreatic tumor cells.
There are various techniques that fall under the umbrella of ablation, including the following:
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Ethanol ablation
- And more
These varied techniques can be used for patients with varying issues related to their pancreatic cancer. A doctor can review your specific needs based on a personal assessment of your health and the situation that you find yourself in. They are the experts in their field, and you should take their words of wisdom into account as you work on figuring out what works best for you.
Targeted Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer
One of the biggest downsides to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other traditional cancer treatments is the fact that such treatments often result in healthy cells in the body being damaged. Radiation therapy is effective at killing cancer cells in most cases, but it also takes out a great number of otherwise healthy and functional cells with it as well. Thus, patients may feel weaker than they did before they began to receive treatment.
Targeted therapy attempts to circumvent this problem by using a targeted approach to only go after the cancer cells that are plaguing the sufferer’s body. Doctors can prescribe targeted therapies based on the specific biology of an individual’s body, and they can select a treatment regime that will work for that individual by reviewing what their body is most likely to respond to in a positive way.
The role of targeted therapy is to block off processes in healthy cells that could lead to them becoming cancerous tumor cells. By putting a stop to those processes, targeted therapy can stop cancer at the source.
Did you know that you already have one of the most powerful tools in the world for fighting cancer at your disposal? It’s called your immune system, and it serves you in a variety of ways every day. What it is great at doing is keeping your body’s natural defenses up so that it can fight off any unwanted illnesses and ailments. Most think of the immune system as being useful for fighting off something like the common cold, but it can do so much more than that. It may even help you wage war against any kind of cancer that begins to form in your body.
The use of immunotherapy can help boost your immune system so that it may do what it does best. Namely, it is useful in helping awaken your immune system to the threat that is posed by the cancer cells forming in your body.
Immunotherapy relies on drugs that are meant to target your immune system and get it firing on all cylinders. You see, the immune system of a pancreatic cancer patient is likely to take a hit in the early days of that diagnosis. Cancer takes the first shot in this contest, but you can choose to fight back. To do so, you may need to receive immunotherapy that can aid you in the fight. Your immune system may simply need a little help getting back into fighting shape, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you can bolster your immune system and turn it into a lean cancer-fighting machine, then you will be in much better shape to fight back against your pancreatic cancer.
Mind, Body, and Spirit Therapies
Many pancreatic cancer patients have reported that they experience improved physical and mental outcomes when they practice what is known as “mind, body, and spirit” therapies. These include practices that you have likely heard of before, including:
- Relaxation techniques
- Mental imagery
- Music therapy
These are all techniques that individuals have used to some extent to help create a space for themselves to relax and unwind from their stressful lives. These therapies may be useful even to people who are not suffering from cancer, but they can certainly be used as a tension-reduction method to help with one’s peace of mind.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is one of the most stressful things that a person can have to go through, and it is no wonder that there are a lot of people who feel that they need to ease the tension off of their shoulders to improve their quality of life. The use of any of these techniques should be performed under the guidance of an expert who knows what they are doing. If you can commit to that, you will likely get the best results possible in the long run.
Remember, these techniques alone will not cause your cancer to go away, but they are useful as complementary techniques to go along with the more traditional methods of treatment that you also ought to use at this time.
Trying Everything After Diagnosis
All pancreatic cancer patients should always consult with their doctor before attempting any particular cancer treatment method or plan. The cancer patient should be open to new ideas that they might not have tried or even thought about lately. If they are willing to try everything, then it might truly be possible for them to find some relief. Given the dire prognosis that pancreatic cancer often carries, it is best to try virtually everything that you can think of to find the treatment results that you need to move on with their lives.
Always put your health and happiness first, and keep an open mind to all treatment types. Consult with your doctors to see if certain treatment options are right for you, and try your best to get to a place where you are making some progress on your healing. It is all about taking one step at a time.
Written By: Dr. Pablo Orozco
Dr. Pablo Orozco is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Orozco has been a treating physician at the Immunity Therapy Center for more than 3 years providing daily on-site pancreatic cancer patient care. He works with patients on a daily basis and guides them through the treatment process. Dr. Orozco’s passion for Alternative Cancer Treatments, along with his commitment to patient care, is key to ensuring that our patients have the best experience and results possible.
- Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms. (no date) National Health Services. Available at:https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pancreatic-cancer/symptoms/ (Accessed October 6, 2022).
- Cancer Stat Facts: Pancreatic Cancer. (no date) NIH National Cancer Institute. Available at: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/pancreas.html (Accessed October 6, 2022).
- Bautista, D. (2022) Pancreatic cancer treatment?, Immunity Therapy Center. Available at: https://www.immunitytherapycenter.com/blog/pancreatic-cancer-treatment/ (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
- What is pancreatic cancer? (no date) American Cancer Society. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/about/what-is-pancreatic-cancer.html (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
- Yousaf, M.N. et al. (1AD) Role of radiofrequency ablation in the management of unresectable pancreatic cancer, Frontiers. Frontiers. Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2020.624997/full (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
- Targeted therapy (2021) Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. PanCAN. Available at: https://pancan.org/facing-pancreatic-cancer/treatment/treatment-types/targeted-therapy/ (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
- Zheng, L. (2022) Immunotherapy: A new frontier for pancreatic cancer?, Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pancreatic-cancer/immunotherapy-a-new-frontier-for-pancreatic-cancer (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
- Complementary and alternative treatments for patients (2022) Lustgarten Foundation: Pancreatic Cancer Research. Available at: https://lustgarten.org/living-with-pancreatic-cancer/understanding/treatment-options/complementary-alternative/ (Accessed: October 4, 2022).
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.