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Hopes of Recovery From Early Stage Pancreatic Cancer

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 05, 2009 9:15 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Pancreatic Cancer, Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Obesity, Smoking

Justice Ginsburg undergoes surgery for pancreatic cancer caught early.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Associated Press Video/ Ginsburg on the court


Pancreatic cancer is generally one of the more lethal forms of the disease.

For Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it was caught in its early stages, found during a routine scan in late January. The tumor measured about 0.4 inches across, and Ginsburg, 75, says she plans to be back to the court after a few weeks of recovery.

She had reportedly had no symptoms before the discovery, but Ginsburg did have colon cancer about a decade ago for which she was treated and recovered.

Justice Ginsburg’s surgery was scheduled at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.


Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is an especially deadly form of cancer with a survival rate of only about five percent after five years.

Generally it is found after it has spread and it claims about 38,000 people in the U.S. every year, making it the fourth leading cause of death.

Dr. Randolph Hecht, director of the gastrointestinal oncology program at UCLA tells the Los Angeles Times that because Ginsburg’s cancer was caught early and it was small and localized, she likely has up to a forty percent chance of surviving five years.

But the National Cancer Institute says four percent survive cancer of the pancreas past five years.

Less than 10 percent of early pancreatic cancers are found at an early stage because the disease is often without symptoms.

Only Stage 1 or 2 forms of pancreatic cancer qualify for surgery.   Chemotherapy would be part of her treatment if the cancer has spread.

Steve Jobs, Apple founder has a form of endocrine tumor of the pancreas, and actor Patrick Swayze is said to be fighting pancreatic cancer.

The American Cancer Society reports that pancreatic cancer rates are higher in countries with high-fat diets. For some unknown reason, rates in the U.S. have increased in the last several decades.

The pancreas has two different types of glands, the exocrine glands which make enzymes that break down fats and protein in foods, and endocrine cells that make hormones like insulin.

Both the exocrine or endocrine cells of the pancreas can form tumors.

Smoking, inactivity, diabetes, obesity and cirrhosis of the liver are all risk factors for pancreatic cancer.  #

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