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August 2012

From: Karen: My dad recently passed, his tumor markers reduced from 46000 to 30000 and kept falling but yet he fell ill with a temp on Wed night and passed away Thurs Arvo ......death certificate states severe sepsis and Pulmonary Edema, unfortunately I did not make it to say goodbye, so why did he die Was it because his heart was just too weak?

From: Maria: my dad died on July 23 after a 13 month battle. On the death certificate it stated adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. But did he really die of organ failure. He was only in the hospice 2 days. He deteriorated rapidly and list consciousness. He was fighting for breath in the end. No oxygen mask no drip. They didn’t believe in it. Why? and why is funding so low compared to other cancers. I want my dad. I really want and need my dad. No joking. Why oh why? Tears. 

From: Laurie: My dad also died with respiration of 30 to 40, despite the morphine, On hospice that he hadn't even used till the night he died. He donated his body to research with promised specimens to Georgetown Where he was diagnosed and followed until his death after he arrived back home in CA. When we got the autopsy report, this was how it was listed: #1 respiratory failure. #2 cardiac failure. #3 adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.. He had just come off of coumadin therapy for a DVT. I've often wondered if he died of pain or a pulmonary embolism? 


From The Lustgarten Foundation: Dear Karen, Maria and Laurie,

The types of issues and questions you are struggling with are very difficult ones and likely do not have concrete answers.  Certainly without more information, we are not in a position to give you answers regarding the cause of death.  I imagine that you are struggling with the passing of your wonderful fathers and grieving for their loss. The grieving process can be very painful and difficult for people who have lost someone close to them. The single most important factor in healing from a loss is having the support of other people. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.  These can either be friends and family, religious community groups, therapists or support groups specific to cancer loss (these can be found by contacting local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, or counseling centers).  It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following a loss. But as time passes, these emotions should become less intense as you come to terms with the loss and start to move forward. 


From Danielle Lee: My question is if you were found to have a MCN cyst what are the chances of recurrence? None of my doctors seem to know?  

From The Lustgarten Foundation: Dear Danielle,

There are not many studies out there to address this specific issue but these two statistics may help.  From a 2010 article entitled Management of mucinous cystic neoplasms of the pancreas it was reported that, “After resection, in the absence of invasive carcinoma, prognosis of MCNs is excellent, with an overall survival rate of 100% and patients do not need follow-up, since several studies have shown that the risk of recurrence following resection is 0%"


With women, there is still have a slight chance of developing a completely new MCN which on average occurs in 8.7 per 1000 based on a study published by Johns Hopkins in 2008.


From Terri: My mother had cystadenocacinoma  
Of the pancreas 16 years ago- had part of pancreas out and spleenectomy. Now the pancreatic cancer has returned to colon, abdomen and mets to liver. (now 4 types of pancreatic cancer). How common is it to have cancer return after so many years.  

From The Lustgaren Foundation: Dear Terri,

Pancreatic cystadenocarcinoma is quite rare and, if removed typically has fair prognosis (63% of patients do not have recurring cancers within 5 years).   It is true that typically, if this cancer recurs after surgery, it does so within the first 3 years and occasionally within the first 8 so it is very uncommon for this type of cancer to return after 16 years.  The unfortunate side note to this is that the bulk of information on cancer recurrence is accumulated after the first 5 years after treatment with a few studies going out to 10 years and even fewer to 20.

From Holly: I have had 3 family members pass from this cancer one being my dad, can they remove the pancreas from someone like me as prevention? I know insulin would be necessary to live after removal of pancreas. 

From The Lustgarten Foundation: Dear Holly,

As medicine and surgical techniques have improved, there are situations where whole pancratectomies have been done in high-risk patients who show signs of precancerous lesions.  Clearly, this is not a routine procedure, nor is it without serious risks not only to health but quality of life.  As the pancreas is critical not only for the regulation of blood sugar but also for digestion, patients with pancreatectomies need to strictly regulate their diets and replace the pancreas digestive enzymes they no longer can make as well as constantly monitor and control their insulin levels.  As you have had several family members pass from pancreatic cancer, I would encourage you to contact one of the several groups that follow hereditary pancreatic cancer families and offer surveillance programs which can be found in our interview with an expert series on Screening and Early Detection.


From Terri: What are the chances of Pancreatic Cancer being hereditary?   

From The Lustgarten Foundation: Dear Terri,

Hereditary pancreatic cancer, which increases risk of developing the disease in family members, plays a role in 5-10% of patients.

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