Patrick Swayze (born August 18, 1952) is an American actor known for his roles in films such as Dirty Dancing and “ghost”. The three-time Golden Globe-nominated actor started his dancing career, then dived into singing and songwriting, and later on performing.
In March 2008, Swayze announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Eighteen months later, in September 2009, the disease finally took his life.
Pancreatic cancer accounts for less than 4% of diagnosed cancers in the United States. It is one of the rarest types of cancer, but also one of the most aggressive.
Learn about Patrick Swayze’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and the symptoms and causes of this potentially deadly cancer. This article also explains how to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer, and how to better cope when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
What is pancreatic cancer?
This pancreas An organ located in the abdomen that secretes enzymes that help digest food.It also releases hormones such as insulin and Glucagon Control blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer in which cells in the pancreas begin to grow uncontrollably, forming tumors.
Most pancreatic cancers affect exocrine cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing digestive enzymes. Pancreatic cancers that affect endocrine cells (cells responsible for producing hormones) are less common.
Pancreatic cancer can spread (transfer) to other organs of the body, especially those close to the pancreas, such as the liver or lungs.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
In late 2007, Swayze started showing symptoms, leading him to seek a diagnosis. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain and jaundice — four common symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
Weight Loss and Gastrointestinal Problems
People with pancreatic cancer may have little or no appetite.This is because tumors trigger the release of inflammatory substances (called cytokine) This changes the brain’s perception of hunger. This can lead to unexpected weight loss, which is common in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Tumors in the pancreas can also compress the nearby stomach and intestines, which can cause indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. These can further lead to loss of appetite and weight loss.
Abdominal pain is a common symptom in patients with pancreatic cancer. This usually occurs when a tumor presses against the spine, causing pain in the abdomen that radiates into the back. The pain gets worse when you lie down.
Jaundice is yellowing of the eyes and skin. It is caused by the buildup of bilirubin, a yellowish substance produced by the breakdown of red blood cells.
Bilirubin is normally excreted from the body through the liver and bile ducts. But when pancreatic cancer progresses to an advanced stage, tumors and inflammation can block the bile ducts, causing bilirubin to build up in the blood.
Jaundice is often one of the main reasons why people with pancreatic cancer seek a diagnosis.
People with pancreatic cancer often seek a diagnosis when “classic” symptoms are present. These include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss, abdominal pain radiating from the back, and jaundice.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
The cause of pancreatic cancer is unknown, but several risk factors have been identified.
Smoking is one such factor. Chemicals in tobacco smoke weaken the body’s immune response, including natural killer cells (NKCs) that help fight cancer. Smoking also damages cells’ genetic material, called DNA, causing them to grow uncontrollably into tumors.
Swayze was known to be a heavy smoker, and he believed smoking was related to his cancer.
Other risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:
- Age: Most people with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 45.
- Genetics: Having a family history of pancreatic cancer or a genetic disorder such as Lynch syndrome increases the risk of pancreatic cancer.
- Obesity: Obese people are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer.
- Chronic pancreatitis: Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) increases the risk of pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis is usually the result of heavy drinking.
Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include older age, smoking, family history of pancreatic cancer, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, and history of alcohol abuse.
Causes and Risk Factors of Pancreatic Cancer
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer can be difficult, especially in its early stages. The pancreas is located deep in the abdomen, so small tumors can be difficult to detect during a physical examination or even imaging.
People with pancreatic cancer often have no symptoms until the disease progresses. Swayze didn’t see a doctor until his symptoms progressed to the point where he could no longer ignore them.
The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer usually begins by reviewing your medical history and your family medical history. The physical exam will look for signs of pancreatic cancer, such as jaundice or other less obvious symptoms, such as itchy skin or fluid in the abdomen (ascites).
The doctor will then order tests to help diagnose pancreatic cancer. These include blood tests, such as CA19-9, which detect substances in the blood associated with pancreatic cancer. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), will also be done to look for pancreatic abnormalities.
Pancreatic cancer is definitively diagnosed by biopsy. This involves taking a sample of the tumor in the laboratory for evaluation.
Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed by reviewing your medical history, physical exam, blood tests, and imaging tests (such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI scan). A biopsy of the tumor is required to definitively diagnose the disease.
How to Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer
While pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to cure, there are treatments that can relieve symptoms and improve survival. Treatment may include surgery to remove some or all of the pancreas affected by the cancer.
Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of treatments can also be used, each of which fights the disease in different ways:
- Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill fasting, replicating cells like cancer. It damages other rapidly replicating cells, such as hair and tissue in the digestive tract. Drugs are given intravenously (into a vein) or by injection.
- Radiation therapy uses a focused beam of radiation to kill cancer cells directly.
- Immunotherapy, usually given intravenously or by mouth, uses drugs that help the immune system recognize cancer cells and fight them.
Swayze’s cancer treatment includes chemotherapy and an experimental drug called vatalanib, which helps block an enzyme that promotes cancer growth. As of 2022, the drug has not been approved and clinical trials are underway.
Although the disease is mostly incurable, pancreatic cancer has the potential to be cured if detected early. As many as 10% of people who are diagnosed early are cancer free after treatment.
If pancreatic cancer is advanced and a person is unlikely to benefit from treatment, your doctor will provide palliative care. Palliative care is used to minimize symptoms so you can stay comfortable for as long as possible.
Some people may only opt for palliative care when they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is a highly personal choice and the potential benefits and risks of treatment are fully disclosed. For some people, maintaining the highest possible quality of life is more important than undergoing potentially toxic and unbearable treatments.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer may involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these. If the cancer is advanced, your doctor will focus on palliative care to provide comfort and minimize symptoms.
How to Treat Pancreatitis
Because pancreatic cancer is associated with high mortality, many people struggle to cope with a diagnosis. However, no matter how severe the disease is, there are ways to manage it both emotionally and physically.
Swayze embraced his diagnosis positively, eager to receive his treatment, spread awareness, and find comfort in those he loves.
Pancreatic cancer patients can do the same. In addition to joining a support group, you will need to develop a support system of people who can comfort and encourage you during treatment. This includes not only family and friends, but also your healthcare team, counselors, therapists and social workers.
Coping with the side effects of treatment can also be difficult. It is important to tell your doctor about any challenges you face during treatment, as there are many ways to ease many of them.
For example, your doctor can prescribe medications to relieve pain, nausea, mouth sores, and even anxiety. Healthy lifestyle choices—including getting enough rest, staying as active as possible, and maintaining proper nutrition—can help you cope better with treatment.
If you have pancreatic cancer, it is important to develop a support network of family, friends, medical professionals and support groups. You also need to stay active, stay active, and maintain good nutrition to keep your mind and body healthy.
Patrick Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008 and has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for those living with the disease. He also shed light on a type of cancer that many people don’t know about.
Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is often delayed because symptoms do not appear until the disease is advanced. People with pancreatic cancer often seek a diagnosis when symptoms such as jaundice and unexpected weight loss occur. By this stage, the disease is likely to have advanced to an advanced stage.
Diagnosing pancreatic cancer involves reviewing your medical history, physical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, and tumor biopsy. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and palliative care (designed to minimize pain and provide comfort).
Following Swayze’s example, pancreatic cancer patients are strongly encouraged to build a strong support network to stay healthy and fit and stay positive.
Patrick Swayze inspired many fans long before he had pancreatic cancer, but his diagnosis and the way he treated the disease resonated with those who were also affected by it. It is important to make the treatment choices that are right for you.
Some people may only opt for palliative care when they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is a highly personal choice, and potential benefits and risks are fully disclosed. For some people, maintaining the highest possible quality of life is more important than undergoing potentially toxic and unbearable treatments.
Coping with pancreatic cancer
Frequently Asked Questions
What cancer did Patrick Swayze have?
Patrick Swayze has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, also known as metastatic pancreatic cancer. The term metastatic is used to describe cancer that has spread from the point of origin (in this case, the pancreas) to other parts of the body. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is the final stage of the disease.
What is the number one cause of pancreatic cancer?
The exact cause of pancreatic cancer is not known. However, most genetic mutations that cause pancreatic cancer are acquired from certain risk factors, such as smoking and obesity. Inherited gene mutations are less common but increase risk.
What is the survival rate for pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic cancer survival depends on whether the cancer is local (not yet spread), regional (spread to nearby areas), or distant (spread to distant areas). These rates are rough estimates of five-year viability based on pancreatic cancer data from 2011 to 2017.
- Localization: 42%
- Region: 14%
- Long range: 3%
- All phases of Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) combined: 11%