Commonly asked questions about pancreatic cancer

Health

The announcement by Alex Trebek, the long time host of ‘Jeopardy‘, is on a lot of people’s minds. 
The iconic host is now battling pancreatic cancer.

He shares, “This week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Now normally the prognosis of this is not very encouraging but I’m going to fight this.”       

His diagnosis is prompting many conversations and raising questions, which is the focus of News 8 On Call.
Pancreatic cancer is tough to diagnose early because symptoms are mild, such as an upset stomach,
The American Cancer Society says there is no screening test that has been shown to increase the rate of survival.

Related Content: ‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek says he has pancreatic cancer

There are a number of commonly asked questions about pancreatic cancer. 
News 8 asked Dr. Khanh Nguyen with Smilow Cancer Hospital at Griffin Health many of these common questions.

What is pancreatic cancer? 

He answers, “Everytime we eat anything, the pancreas functions by increasing insulin, other enzymes to break down our food so we can get nutrition. When the cancer develops, the cells in the pancreas just continues to grow and grow and grow and overwhelms the normal cells.” 

Patients also ask why can’t doctors take out the pancreas?

“We don’t have a good method of detecting pancreatic cancer,” he says, “So its detected very late by the time it’s detected very late unfortunatley just removing the pancreas itself doesn’t fix the problem it can actually cause people to have more symptoms.”  

Treatment options?

Dr. Nguyen says, “Over the last probably five years or so, the treatment options of pancreatic cancer has significantly increased. We know recently that immunotherapy does play a role in pancreatic cancer.”

How long does a person live with pancreatic cancer? 

“We don’t know for sure,” says Dr. Nguyen, “In statistics, they tell us that survival of pancratic cancer in five years is only ten percent. But with treatment and all, people can do well.”

He says that question is perhaps the toughest to answer. 

Dr. Nguyen points out people, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are living with pancreatic cancer.

If you have a health question you want answered, send it to News8oncall@wtnh.com.
 

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