Everyone should know that pancreatic cancer is a deadly condition. Statistics say that only 5.5% of those diagnosed with the lethal disease live longer than 5 years.
The main reason for this fatal outcome is attributed to the fact that this type of cancer is very difficult to detect and locate. All of us have an abdominal pain [mostly coming from digestion processes in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract)] from time to time, and we don’t pay any attention to it. So, by the time doctors have found the pancreatic cancer, it has already spread metastases throughout the body.
Pancreatic cancer overview
Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive type of cancer with few symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, weight loss, diarrhea, and jaundice. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It is a sly disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the pancreas.
The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine. The pancreas produces digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Cells called exocrine pancreas cells produce the digestive juices, while cells called endocrine pancreas cells produce the hormones. The majority of pancreatic cancers start right in the exocrine cells.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
- Pain in the upper or middle abdomen and back
- Unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
The factors which could put you at risk for developing pancreatic cancer include:
- Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Inherited conditions (including hereditary pancreatitis)
- Familial pancreatic cancer syndromes
- Long-standing diabetes
How is pancreatic cancer diagnosed and treated?
After taking down your health history and performing a physical exam, the doctor may order several tests to determine the cause of your problem or extent of the condition, including:
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- CT scan (computed tomography)
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
- Laparoscopy (surgical procedure to look at organs)
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC; procedure used to X-ray liver and bile ducts)
- Biopsy (removal of tissue to view it under a microscope)
There are various treatments for pancreatic cancer, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat cancer, while radiation therapy uses X-rays or other kinds of radiation to kill cancer cells. Finally surgery can be used to remove a tumor, or to treat symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
What is the outlook for patients with pancreatic cancer?
The American Cancer Society reports that only about 23% of patients with the exocrine pancreas cancer are still living 1 year after being diagnosed with the disease. And only about 5% of them are still living 5 years after being diagnosed.
So, obviously, the pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of death largely because there are no reliable detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when the surgical removal of the malign tumor is still possible.
But this is all about to change thanks to a boy who has ‘a wise head on young shoulders’ called Jack Andraka. He is a 15-year old teenager from Crownsville, Maryland, who invented a brand new method able to detect this lethal cancer in its earliest developing stages.
Andraka’s novel patent-pending sensor is said to be 168 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive, and 400 times more sensitive than current testing methods. (It was said in his Tedx video at 0:50.)
Just to give you an idea, current popular testing methods are 60 years old, truly inaccurate (they miss 30% of all pancreatic cancers!) and very expensive (they cost mazing $800!). (It was also said in his Tedx video at 1:55.)
Pay attention: At the far end, Jack Andraka’s test would only cost petty 3 cents, and would take only 5 minutes to run with a 100% accuracy!
We sincerely believe that the ground-breaking discovery of this young boy will undoubtedly change the future of the profitable cancer industry throughout the world.
Inventing a low-cost test for cancer at age 15: Watch the incredible-talented Jack Andraka at TEDxMidAtlantic :
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