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Pancreatic Cancer

What to expect



This may be a difficult question to answer, but please give it a try! My husband was diagnosed in 4/07 with stage IV PC (mets to liver). Started immediately on Gemzar and Tarceva. Tumor markers dropped considerably over the first 6 months of treatment, then a steady rise. CT scans over the course of the treatment, were stable (no shrinkage of tumors). As the tumor marker kept rising, and my husband was having difficult time tolerating the chemo, it was decided that the chemo was no longer working, that the tumor marker will rise sometimes months before the disease progression is seen on a CT scan. He is now taking Xeloda and seems to be tolerating it fairly well. He does not want any real aggressive treatmet- quality of life vs. quantity. If the Xeloda doesn`t work, what can we expect as far as the progression of the disease? He is not due for a tumor marker for 2 more weeks, and the next CT scan will be in Feb. Is it the Pancreatic failure, or the liver failure that usually causes death? Despite 2 large tumors in the liver, his LFT`s are normal, exept for the LD. Only pain he has is new- seems to be on the LEFT side- not sure what that could be- any thoughts? Thank you for your time.


People with pancreas cancer will usually die from malnutrition complicated by infections like pneumonia etc... Other causes include bowel obstruction or liver failure. His pain should be able to be controlled with oral medications. Talk to your treating physician regarding optimizing his medications. Also have him concentrate on his nutritional status. Good Luck.

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Response by:

Syed A Ahmad, MD Syed A Ahmad, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati