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Old 07-13-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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A cousin's wife's mother has pancreatic cancer stage 4.
It seems stages 1-3 went undetected.
I know pancreatic is one of the very deadly cancers, as I knew a man who lasted maybe 3 months after diagnosis.
And in the business world, Apple's Steve Jobs has this cancer and appears to be beating it.

What is the prognosis for stage 4?

Thanks.
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:21 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
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Not good. If she has Steve Jobs' resources, she may last a while longer as he has done.
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Old 07-13-2011, 12:25 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania
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They're just beginning to find treatment methods but, sorry to say, Southern Belle is correct.
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Old 07-13-2011, 12:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAhippo View Post
They're just beginning to find treatment methods but, sorry to say, Southern Belle is correct.
Pancreatic cancer is considered Stage IV if it has spread to distant locations in the body, such as the liver, lungs, or adjacent organs including the stomach, spleen, and/or the bowel. Sometimes it can only be determined that a pancreatic cancer is in Stage IV once surgery is completed.

Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer : CancerConnect News

I'm not seeing survival rates or time frames.
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Old 07-13-2011, 12:49 PM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,222 posts, read 50,499,962 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howard555 View Post
A cousin's wife's mother has pancreatic cancer stage 4.
It seems stages 1-3 went undetected.
I know pancreatic is one of the very deadly cancers, as I knew a man who lasted maybe 3 months after diagnosis.
And in the business world, Apple's Steve Jobs has this cancer and appears to be beating it.

What is the prognosis for stage 4?

Thanks.
From what I understand, pancreatic cancer is usually not even diagnosed until stage 4 because there are few symptoms before that. If it's caught earlier, it's often accidental in the course of treating something else.

I've never known anyone who has survived pancreatic cancer. As for people like Steve Jobs with resources for better treatment, that only goes so far. Patrick Swayze had lots of resources, too.

Sorry to hear this about your family member.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Houston
687 posts, read 1,860,842 times
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Sorry about your cousin's wife's mother. Pancreatic cancer is not good. The majority of people with this cancer have poor prognosis, mostly because the cancer has so few obvious symptoms in its early stages. By the time symptoms are obvious enough to get noticed and the cancer is diagnosed, it has already spread to other organs and systems (stage 4), and is much harder to treat. Some possible reasons for Steve Jobs' long survival: it may have been diagnosed early, he may have a less malignant type, and he has access to the best care available, including clinical trials.

Cancers with low survival rates indicate that current standard of care (SOC) is not really the best option. It means that you are getting what everyone else is getting, even though it does not work, or works minimally. I would encourage your family to look into clinical trials as a treatment option. Here are some valid information about pancreatic cancer and clinical trials:

From the National Cancer Institute (Feds)
Pancreatic Cancer Home Page - National Cancer Institute

The overall 5-year relative survival for 2001-2007 from 17 SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology & End Results Registry) geographic areas was 5.5%. Five-year relative survival by race and sex was: 5.2% for white men; 5.7% for white women; 3.8% for black men; 5.0% for black women. This means that 5.5% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive at the end of 5 years, a very low survival rate. However, if the cancer was diagnosed early, before it had a chance to spread, then the survival rate goes up to 21.5%, meaning that about 1 in 5 people in this category were alive at the end of 5 years (better odds). http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/pancreas.html

The American Cancer Society (national non-profit) also offers a treatment decision tool to help you consider options:
Pancreatic Cancer

Your family member's best bet would be at an academic research and treatment facility such as MD Anderson Cancer Center (rated #1 cancer center by US News & World Report).

Other excellent research and treatment facilities that are federally designated comprehensive cancer centers can be found at: Cancer Centers Program - Cancer Centers List

Good luck!

Last edited by karuna95; 07-18-2011 at 09:32 AM..
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:18 PM
 
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My Grandpa found out he had pancreatic cancer February of 2010. The doctor gave him at least 6 more months to live, but is still alive over a year later. I talk to him on the phone from time to time and he says he still works in his yard and is eating okay. I know the survival rate for it is low, but maybe he'll be one of the lucky ones. He's 71 by the way.
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:50 PM
 
Location: Lost in Space
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Originally Posted by 90sman View Post
My Grandpa found out he had pancreatic cancer February of 2010. The doctor gave him at least 6 more months to live, but is still alive over a year later. I talk to him on the phone from time to time and he says he still works in his yard and is eating okay. I know the survival rate for it is low, but maybe he'll be one of the lucky ones. He's 71 by the way.

Hopefully he'll plug along okay, but, I think pancreatic cancer and lucky are mutually exclusive terms.

My dad died last year after dealing with pancreatic cancer for ten years. He was in the distinct minority of having lived that long. For reference, he was diagnosed with stage four in the fall of 2008 and was given a year max to live (most stage 4's don't live that long).

To the OP, my understanding of stage 4 is that either the cancer has spread to areas/cells close to the pancreas, or the cancer has spread to distant places (lungs, brain, etc.). In either case, treatments are normally palliative. Chemo is common. My dad got nodules in his lungs which were kept at bay for a while with chemo and then cyber knife surgery.

I am not a doctor but, from the reading I have done, there really is no long term survival hopes with stage 4. My dad living 2 additional years at stage 4 was quite a feat.

The vast, vast majority of people with pancreatic cancer will die from it. As people have previously posted, the symptoms are difficult to read and so by the time a diagnosis is made, it literally is too late. Given it's locale and functions, it's a tricky disease that once has spread, is just about undefeatible.

So, please brace yourself that treatment here on out will be palliative. Pancreatic cancer is aweful. The only good that can come of it is that those having dealt with it can create awareness and funding. I recall that it is the 4th deadliest cancer yet remains one of the least funded. While still mysterious in a way, it is thought that contributory factors to this type of cancer are hereditary, diabetes, and smoking.
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Houston
687 posts, read 1,860,842 times
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90sman: tell your grandpa to buy a lottery ticket - he's already a winner! All my best for his continued good health.

Redsox1972: sorry about your dad, but glad that you all had a little extra time with him. You made a good point about low funding for pancreatic cancer. With cancer, having survivor advocates really strengthens the appeal for funding. Unfortunately, with pancreatic cancer, there are few survivors to advocate :-(
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Lost in Space
348 posts, read 733,636 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karuna95 View Post
90sman: tell your grandpa to buy a lottery ticket - he's already a winner! All my best for his continued good health.

Redsox1972: sorry about your dad, but glad that you all had a little extra time with him. You made a good point about low funding for pancreatic cancer. With cancer, having survivor advocates really strengthens the appeal for funding. Unfortunately, with pancreatic cancer, there are few survivors to advocate :-(
It's the surviving relatives and friends of pancreatic cancer patients who need to raise awareness and money. Dr. Oz did a segment on it earlier this year. I recall he called it the cancer doctors fear most. Folks should hop on his website and pull up the segment. It is shameful that in 2011 there is a cancer that is pretty much a death sentence.
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