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Pancreatic Cancer - symptoms, treatments and therapies
This pancreatic cancer overview and associated articles will give you everything you need to know to help you increase your personal odds of beating pancreatic cancer - the symptoms, the diagnosis and all the latest options on treatments and therapies - from cancer drugs and chemotherapy to surgery, radiotherapy and complementary therapies; including all the very latest alternative and new therapies and information. We will even cover the causes.

This article has been compiled by Chris Woollams from worldwide research and expert sources.*

Read the whole article or click on the title below to read the piece(s) that you wish to view.

The CANCERactive Difference: Intelligent Information. Independent Voice. On this web site you will find more information about more treatment options (Complementary and Alternative, not just Orthodox), and on more possible contributory factors to the development and maintenance of your cancer, than on any other UK cancer web site. Some experts believe that approaching your cancer in this total way can increase an individuals chances of survival by as much as 60 per cent.
The very latest research evidence from all over the world in our news section Cancer Watch supports all this.  
We can do this because we are not hide-bound by vested interests, and so we can always put people first. We are not influenced by companies who seek to make financial gains from patients, we have no trustees working for, or sponsored directly or indirectly by such companies, our directors take no remuneration at all. This is our true independence, from which you benefit directly. 
But this comes at a price we rely on you, and people like you to support our work. 47,703 people visited our site in March 2007, viewing 11 pages on average. Every month we add 20 new pages to this site. If you feel an independent voice is essential in cancer, please, please help by making a donation. Every little helps.

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The Pancreas

Pan1The pancreas is an organ deep in the abdomen, just in front of the spine, below the stomach and liver and in line with the lowest front ribs. It is about 6 inches long, pear-shaped and connected to the small intestine (the duodenum). It secretes enzymes that help you to digest your food and hormones linked to the control of your blood sugar and the metabolism of carbohydrates, most notably insulin (produced in an area of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans) and glucagon.

Increasingly cancer is being associated with poor blood sugar control, insulin resistance and even stage 2 (late-onset) diabetes. But even this is a very limited view.

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Firstly, for example scientists at Cancer Research UK have concluded that two proteins (CAP G and Gelsolin) found in high concentrations in pancreatic tumours are actually responsible normally for cell movements around the body. Thus they contribute to pancreatic cancer´s aggressive ability to spread. And secondly, the pancreas is now appreciated to play a part in virtually all cellular growth control and differentiation especially of stem cells (the precursor cells from which your body makes specific heart, stomach, kidney, breast cells etc).

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Essential Information for people with pancreatic cancer

If you have pancreatic cancer you must understand that the very ´epi-centre´ of cancer control in your body is under attack.

The first thing you really should do is read ´The Pancreas Strikes back´. Then you should look at the web site of Dr Gonzalez in New York.

Let me explain briefly.

Back in 1906 a Scottish embryologist came up with a theory: Observing the development of a foetus in a womb, he noted that the original growth of the foetus and division of one to two to four to sixteen cells and so on was attributable to the action of oestrogen on stem cells. Stem cells are produced throughout your life and act as repair cells, being able to convert to almost any cell you need. Stem cells are thus the raw cells of life.

He then observed that around day 54 in the foetal development that two things seemed co-incidental: The stem cells started to turn into their new forms; and the foetus was producing pancreatic enzymes. The latter was strange because the foetus at that stage survived in all other ways because of its dependency on the mother.

So Beard hypothesised that cancer would also operate like this. Stem cells would grow and multiply in the presence of the female hormone oestrogen; and switching them to normal cells demanded the presence of pancreatic enzymes. He then went a step too far for the medical profession by stating that, in other words, a cancer was a baby growing in the wrong place at the wrong time!!

In the article ´The Pancreas Strikes back´   you will read how an American William Kelley developed this theory and used it to treat and cure a large number of cancer patients, and how Dr Gonzalez has taken it a further step with a clinic operating currently in New York, and under FDA supervision is treating and beating a number of cancers.

Of particular relevance is that he is undergoing Clinical Trials with his diet therapy, which includes the tailoring of a large number of supplements including pancreatic enzymes to your biochemical type (metabolic typing).

Please don´t let anyone tell you this is quackery and nonsense.

  1. Dr Gonzalez has been assigned pancreatic cancer for the clinical trials because it is so dangerous and the results could be monitored quickly. He does however treat all types of cancer.
  2. In the initial stages the control group were all given orthodox therapies, to compare with his diet and supplement based group. Everyone in the control group passed away within 18 months. During this same period of time Gonzalez lost just one person out of forty-nine.
  3. The FDA and the Institute for Complementary Health (a US Government funded body) are both monitoring the trials
  4. In November 2004 Professor Wang and his team at British Columbia came up with a ´Breakthrough, revolutionary theory of cancer´. The text books need to be re-written he claimed. Stem cells under the effect of oestrogen cause stomach cancer and he believes it true for all cancers.
  5. Gonzalez himself sits on a number of important cancer committees in the USA along with more ´orthodox oncology´ members. He is regarded as a cancer expert.

Of course, not every cancer in the body forms this way there are probably dozens of ways a cancer can form. Text books would offer that it´s due to DNA damage, for example induced by radiation or other factors. But increasingly it is becoming clear that there are a number of very different ways of developing cancer and the Beard/Gonzalez approach majors on one a very relevant one of them.

Gonzalez has important criteria for accepting patients. He is a private doctor, you will have to pay, and cover the cost of the flight to New York. If he will not take you there are UK options. There are a number of people who can perform ´Metabolic Typing´ on you. Click here and read our article  .

One Doctor working in this same area is Dr Etienne Callebout   in Harley Street. It is fair to say that he has his extremely loyal fans (one is our writer Ginny Fraser who had a dozen tumours all over her body and has now been clear for 6 years) but he is a very, very busy man according to a number of patients that have been to see him. And he is expensive.

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Causes of Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is a very serious cancer that is often diagnosed late, and grows aggressively. It is the fourth largest cause of cancer death in the USA, for example, despite its low absolute numbers.

Almost 7500 people in the UK will develop pancreatic cancer, with almost all of them over the age of 50. The causes of this cancer are becoming clearer all the time - a number of risk factors are emerging:

Smoking is associated with increased risk probably one third of all pancreatic cancers have a link to smoking (Mayo Clinic) Alcohol consumption over long periods of time increases risk. The latter is one possible cause of chronic pancreatitis where the pancreas becomes swollen, and this can itself lead to the cancer.

Pan2Men and women with certain faulty genes may have a higher incidence. For example, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were given those letters originally because they were previously thought to be linked just with breast cancer. Now that their role in DNA repair and immune system identification are understood, it is not surprising that they are associated with a number of cancers in both men and women. Some pancreatic cancers are associated with faulty genes and hereditary factors but this accounts for 10 per cent of the cancers at most.

Black people have more incidence of pancreatic cancer than white, and men more than women.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Diabetes, insulin resistance and poor blood glucose control may be a factor. It certainly is with other cancers, but the pancreas has a special relationship with these because it controls sugar levels in the blood and carbohydrate metabolism.  New research (Gastroenterology 2005; 129; 504-11) shows that elderly, late-onset diabetes patients, have an increased risk of pancreatic cancer within three years. Suresh Chari (Mayo Clinic) has suggested using late-onset diabetes as a marker to obtain an earlier diagnosis for pancreatic cancer. MD Anderson have concluded that there is a link between stress, diabetes and pancreatic cancer. They have an excellent review at  They state risks are higher for blacks and Asians, for smokers and for people with a history of high blood sugar. They recommend exercise, controlling blood sugar and the avoidance of sugary or refined starch foods.

A diet high in animal fat and low in fruit seems to increase risk.

Pillar 1 - Poor Diet

And thus Pancreatic cancer is linked to lifestyle factors including poor dietary habits (eating too many high glycaemic index foods, and to being overweight). Readers should read The First Pillar of Cancer  to understand more.

Finally, there is increasing evidence that some toxins may damage the pancreas. People working in the petroleum, oil and chemical industries and some farmers have a higher incidence. The hormones of the pancreas influence, and are influenced by, all other body hormones and thus chemical products in the blood stream that mimic them play a significant role Readers may wish to read ´As Safe as Houses´  and articles such as ´Toxic Toiletries´  to develop a clearer picture of what they might usefully avoid for total safety.

Now, we don´t list the causes so you can feel guilty. We list them so you can realise what factors might still be present and maintaining your cancer and so you can actually start to do something for yourself in parallel to your doctor´s work.

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Pancreatic Protection?

1 Science Daily (Sept 12 2006) and Dr Mercola both report on a study which examines data from two large scale research projects.  One project reviewed 45,000 men aged 40-75; the other, 75,000 women aged 38-65 in the USA. The study concluded that people taking 400 IU´s of Vitamin D  every day can reduce their risk by 86 per cent. It is now well known that Vitamin D has an important role in the fight against cancer.Sunshine is the best source, with fish oils  a long way behind. If you cannot get into the sunshine for 30 minutes a day, you really should supplement.

If you are looking for supplements click on the tab at the top of the page and go to the Natural Selection shop where they have selected the best of the best and you can buy with confidence.

2 Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition have concluded that a diet rich in flavonols may dramatically cut slash your risk of developing pancreatic cancer.

The 8-year study showed benefits of about 25 per cent and 59 per cent if you were a smoker. Three types of flavonols were found to be very beneficial: Quercitin (apples, onions, garlic); myrecetin (red berries, plums, red onions); Kaempferol (greens, cabbage, spinach etc).

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The most frequent symptoms include:

  • Jaundice where your skin and eyes may turn slightly yellow, the skin may become itchy and your urine turn a dark yellow, even brown. Although this is more a condition of the liver, it is caused by the exit duct from the pancreas blocking the bile duct from the liver which it joins before passing to the intestine.
  • Pain in the abdomen or middle and upper back especially when lying down
  • Tiredness extreme fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Digestive problems such as bloating, indigestion and wind after meals

Of course, any of these symptoms could be a sign of other ailments.

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Types of Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas itself is divided into a head, a body and a tail.

About 85 per cent of all pancreatic cancers (adenocarcinomas) are found in the head region and arise in the acinar cells, where the enzymes and digestive factors are produced, or in the ducts taking the digestive juices to the intestine.

Rarer cancers are found elsewhere. For example:

  • Lymphomas in the lymphatic tissues
  • Sarcomas found in the structural tissue
  • Neuroendocrine cancers arising in the hormone-producing ´islet´ areas.

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Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect. Your doctor will study the symptoms, feel for a swollen liver, conduct a blood test for a tumour protein called CA19-9, and send you for X-rays.

These tests may include:

  • Ultrasound - where a gel is used on your tummy, then a (why is it always so cold?) metal rod is simply passed over the top. Harmless sound waves then bounce off internal organs and, via a computer, images show on a nearby TV screen. Ultrasound may also be used in the process of taking a small amount of tissue using a long needle this is called a biopsy.
  • liver2CT scan where a number of X-rays are taken to build up a 3D computer picture of whole areas of the body. It will take as long as it takes to complete up to 30 X-rays ie about 30 minutes. You may be given an injection of a substance which allows the X-rays to be clearer; and your doctor should discuss allergies, asthma and iodine concerns with you before hand. CT scans may also be used when conducting biopsies. (NB: Too many CT scans should be avoided where possible. Research from Columbia University (icon Vol 3 Issue 4) calculated that the radiation produced from an annual CT scan risks a 1 in 50 chance of death. ´The risks of a full body scan are reasonably well quantified´ says Dr David Brenner)
  • MRI scan - similar to a CT scan, this uses magnetism rather than X-rays. You may be given an injection of a dye to allow more clarity in the images. You will be asked to lie still after sliding into a horizontal chamber. Some people find this very claustrophobic, especially as the tests can last for anything up to an hour. No metal objects (necklaces, pacemakers, metal plates from former operations) are allowed.
  • Chest X-Ray a normal X-ray to see if there is any spread to other body areas.
  • Biopsy where a number of cells, or some tissue, is taken for study under a microscope. Usually this is done using a long, thin, hollow needle under the guidance of images from a scan. A local anesthetic will be used. There have been articles in the Lancet that biopsy may actually spread a cancer if present. Ask. 

None of these tests alone may be conclusive. Other tests that may be used include:

  • An ERCP where the doctor will use an endoscope (a tube with a light and a camera on the end, attached to a computer and a TV monitor. Only the tube goes inside you! A local anesthetic will be used, and the tube passed through your mouth, down your throat and into the bile and pancreatic ducts. A dye may be used to clarify the pictures and help identify any blockages. Antibiotics will then be provided as infection may well occur.
  • An EUS where an ultrasound probe is used rather than an endoscope
  • A Laparoscopy where the doctor makes a small incision just below your navel and a narrow tube complete with camera is passed inside the abdomen. A computer connected to a TV monitor shows the doctor the pictures of your internal organs. A biopsy may be carried out at the same time.

Click here and read our article "What is Cancer"

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Stage and Grade

Cancers are defined in terms of stage the spread of the cancer; and grade the aggressivity of the cancer. Each is on a 1 to 4 scale.

Stage 1 indicates that the cancer is confined and there is no spread

Stage 2 indicates that it has passed to surrounding organs like the intestine and bile duct

Stage 3 indicates it is now spreading in local tissues and into the surrounding lymph nodes

Stage 4 indicates that distant organs such as lung, liver and even brain may be infected.

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The problem with Pancreatic cancer is that, because it is so hard to detect, often it is not caught at an early stage and it has already spread.

SurgerySurgery: may be used to remove a part of the pancreas, the whole of the pancreas, or even the pancreas plus surrounding tissues such as bile duct and even part of the stomach and small intestine, plus lymph nodes. None of the surgery options is minor, and there are diet and hormone implications following these options. Ask.

Chemotherapy: may be used to shrink the tumour prior to surgery, to try to confine the cancer to the pancreas, or to treat cancer in the body once it has spread. Most commonly used drugs include Cisplatin, Fluorouracil, Mitomycin, Capecitabine and Gemcitabine. For information on your Cancer Drugs and chemotherapy click here.

Radiotherapy:  is sometimes used to help kill local cells but there is a risk to nearby organs from the beam.

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Putting together a treatment plan

Fret not there is so much you can do mostly to help yourself. When my daughter developed her brain tumour and was given just 6 months to live we found out so many things that could help but it took at least 6 months hard work and a pair of science degrees. The aim of this web site is to short circuit all this for you and to empower you to pass on all our knowledge, our research findings, the expert studies and the possible causes so that others can benefit immediately. This is also why, when the doctors asked me, I gladly wrote ´Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer´. EYNTK   The book has been a best seller in the UK for three years and you cannot even buy it in a shop only direct from the charity via Natural Selection´s shop - click on the tab at the top of the page!!

You should also read our article on this web site on cutting oestrogen and toxins out of your life in The Second Pillar of Cancer .

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The Need for a Total Body Approach

It is quite clear that the pancreas affects and is affected by the health of the whole body. So you may wish to look at whole body approaches to your treatment.

You can plan your own, all-embracing, treatment programme, with Cancer - Your first 15 Steps,  ,   which is available on this site   and as a small very useful book .
Then you can look up a diet that will help your chemotherapy or understand how to help yourself get a better result from Radiotherapy.
You can then access a world of Complementary Therapies start with our ´kiddies guide´ to them all.
You can look up the benefits of key vitamins, antioxidants and natural supplements like vitamin D, Curcuminselenium and chlorella. All with scientific evidence and research behind them. If you are looking for supplements click on the tab at the top of the page and go to the Natural Selection shop where they have selected the best of the best and you can buy with confidence.

There is a lot of evidence now about the role ´yeasts´ play in about 25 per cent of the cases of diabetes. You might like to look at our articles on Beneficial Bacteria and even one on ´Can Candida cause Cancer´ with suggestions on how to kill off possible yeast infections (Wormwood  is particularly effective). After all, it is estimated that dome 70 per cent of people in the Western World may well have excessive yeast infections.
You can even find out about Alternative options (and all the research) like Ultrasound (HIFU), which may be applicable instead of surgery, or the Oasis of Hope in Mexico and even John of God.

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On this web site you will find more information about more treatment options (Complementary and Alternative, not just Orthodox), and on more possible contributory factors to the development and maintenance of your cancer, than on any other UK cancer web site. Some experts believe that approaching your cancer in this total way can increase an individuals chances of survival by as much as 60 per cent.
This is all supported by the very latest research evidence from all over the world in our news section Cancer Watch.  

We can do this because we are not hide-bound by vested interests, and so we can always put people first. We are not influenced by companies who seek to make financial gains from patients, we have no trustees working for, or sponsored directly or indirectly by such companies, our directors take no remuneration at all. This is our true independence, from which you benefit directly.
But this independence comes at a price: We can only rely on you, and people like you, to support our work. 47,703 people visited our site in March 2007, viewing 11 pages on average. Every month we add 20 new pages to this site. The letters and e mails of gratitude and praise tell us we really do make a difference.

If you feel an independent voice is essential in cancer, please, please help by making a donation.  Every little helps.

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This web site is intended to provide research-based information on cancer and its possible causes and therapies, so that you can make more informed decisions in consultation with those experts. Although our information comes from expert sources, and is most usually provided by Professors, scientists and Doctors, our easy-to-understand, jargon-free approach necessitates that journalists, not doctors, write the copy. For this reason, whilst the authors, management and staff of CANCERactive,
icon, and Health Issues have made every effort to ensure its accuracy, we assume no responsibility for any error, any omission or any consequences of an error or omission. Readers must consult directly with their personal specialists and advisors, and we cannot be held responsible for any action, or inaction, taken by readers as a result of information contained on this web site, or in any of our publications.  Any action taken or refrained from by a reader is taken entirely at the reader´s own instigation and, thus, own risk.

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