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Cancer

Stage 4 pancreatic cancer: life expectancy and treatment

The main function of the pancreas is creating insulin and stimulating certain hormones. Being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer isn’t pleasant news for anyone. The cells within the pancreas start growing abnormally and they destroy the organs and tissue nearby. The cause is unknown, and the cancer itself is usually undetected until late stages, with jaundice being the first symptom that something is terribly wrong. Once diagnosed, the cancer stage has to be determined. There are four stages of pancreatic cancer. Stage one and two cancers include local cancers, resectable cancers – they can be completely removed surgically. Stage three pancreatic cancers are known as locally advanced unresectable cancers, meaning that they can’t be completely removed surgically. Stage four is the final stage – aggressive treatment is the only option in order to prolong life expectancy. At stage four, the cancer has usually spread to other organs and has become a problem for the whole organism. Depending on the severity, chemotherapy treatment may include one to three chemotherapy agents. Chemotherapy is the best stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment.

Stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment: how much does chemo prolong life?

As stage four is the final stage of pancreatic cancer, it is a very hard battle. Unfortunately, patients with stage four cancer usually have only five to six months life expectancy. Chemotherapy is the only stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment option, as it prolongs the patient’s life for several months. The oncologist will decide how aggressive the treatment will be. Chemotherapy has proven as a good option for stage four, as it not only prolongs life of the patient, but it also increases quality of life.

Stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment: side effects of chemotherapy

As chemotherapy is the only viable stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment option, it’s good to know what side effects there are. The most common side effect of chemotherapy is fatigue (if the treatment isn’t that aggressive). Other side effects include change in taste, hair loss, loss of appetite, lowering of immune system (immunosuppression) and because of this, supportive medications are a must. With supportive medications, nausea, diarrhea, pain and immunosuppression are controlled and reduced more efficiently. The psychological impact of such disease is also immense. Because of the negative impact the disease and the aggressive treatment may have on the psychological stability of an individual, psychological support, as well as support from family and friends is much needed.

Stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment: research trials and alternative treatment

As stage four, pancreatic cancer has a very grim prognosis, and every patient that is eligible may enroll in a research trial. The trial list can be found online. Clinical trials include testing with circumin (the main ingredient of turmeric), as it has shown as an efficient compound in non human research. At this point in time, there is no way to prevent the cancer and no way to do proper screening. Chemotherapy stays the only stage 4 pancreatic cancer life expectancy treatment available for now.