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Pancreatic Cancer questions

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2010

My husband has been receiving gemzar treatments for his pancreatic cancer. Since a spot
was also discovered on his liver, he is unable to have surgery. The oncologist suggested
that he be put on a clinical trial, he was not selected to do two chemos, but only the
gemzar. My question is why some people seem to be getting two chemos without being on a clinical trial. The oncologist told us this was the only option for his treatment, and
did not suggest any type of radiation or chemo combinations. Also, everytime his platelets
lower, so does his gemzar,even if the the platelet count goes back, he will not be able
to go back to the normal dosage of gemzar. Does this seem like good treatment or should I look into something else for my husband?

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2010

I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in February 2009. My oncologist had me on
Gemzar with Tarceva. I had 13 treatments of Gemzar while also taking Tarceva. In November
of 2009, I was told that the tumor in my pancreas had shrunk by 25 %. However, in January
of this year, after another CAT scan, I was told that the Gemzar had stopped working and the cancer was growing again. The Dr. then had me start taking oxaliplatin and xeloda. After 4 treatments with those, I had another CAT scan. The Dr. said that the cancer was still growing. Now he has me taking taxotere. I am scheduled for my third dose of taxotere this Wednesday. I have searched the web for natural cures for cancer, and have been taking herbal supplements since my initial diagnosis without telling the oncologist. I am convinced that the supplements have helped to prolong my life. I would recommend that you check out the web site www.cancertutor.com If you would like to know what supplements,
I have been taking, send me a private email. Best Wishes to you and your husband.

Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2011



Try it out. I am on it. Feeling great!

LL's picture
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi, My husband was on Gemzar for 6 months for recurrence of pancreatic cancer. We just recently found out that it stopped working and that his ca-19-9 marker was rising. He is now on a combo treatment of 5-FU (a 24 hour pump 1 day a week) for 4 weeks and oxaliplatin every other week. We will find out Tuesday if this new treatment is working.
If the red and white blood cells are low then the treatment is usually not given as the patient is very vulnerable to infection. My husband has had to skip treatment numerous times and when the counts are back up then he resumes his normal dose of chemo. Not every person will be offered the same drug for the same cancer. It depends on the general health and age of the patient and even the tolerance to the drug. My opinion to you, please get a second opinion if not already done..Good Luck.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2010

Have you looked into or done any molecular profiling on the tumor to see what chemos it might be impacted by?

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2010

No, that has not been suggested. How do you do molecular profiling? What information would I need. Thanks for the suggestion.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2010

We are still learning about this ourselves since we are still in our first line of treatment (Gemzar) - but we just want to be prepared for when we may need to make a 2nd choice. I can share what we know so far - there are a variety of ways of testing the tumors for sensitivity to certain chemos. This testing has not completed a phase 3 clinical study so most ONCs don't seem to want to touch it or give much credibility to it.

It is talked a lot about on the John Hopkins message board. There seems to be 3 types of testing. One is a blood test that you send off to some lab in Greece (not sure if they have a front office in the US). Another test takes a good size biopsy (size of pencil eraser) and essentially drops slivers in different petri dishes and wacks it with different chemos to see which one kills the tumor cells (there were two labs in California that did this - and I think there was a third lab on the East coast that instead of a petri dish implanted them in mice to get a more body like test.) Then there is molecular profiling which I know is done by Caris in Arizona. This does some type of gene analysis (believe only a needle biopsy for these guys) to determine chemosensitivity.

We talked to our ONC about it - she thought it was a waste but if we did one - she said we should do the gene one. There seems to be a number of arguments that the human body isn't the same as a petri dish and a petri dish can't mimic what will actually happen in your body.

That said, we have talked to a few people who have done it and all of them said that the the top chemo choice that was recommended to them in the report has been of benefit to them. Even one said that their report said a particular chemo had a low probability of working which ended up being true since he was on that and it wasn't working. We are still trying to find more people who have tried it - but I think the science is pretty new.

In the end, we view it as a logical approach to the problem that may possibly increase our chances for picking a suitable chemo combination.

Posts: 10
Joined: May 2010

Dear LL. I have been there. Certain supplements like mushroom extracts ( AHCC )
help strengthen the immune system and make these chemo drugs less harmful to
nocancerous cells. The red and white blood cell counts will come up faster after
chemo if your immune system is in better shape. I would suggest that you look into
alternative cures for cancer that you can take along with chemo. I recommend graviola
and triphala as a start. Best wishes to your husband.

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2010

My husband had his PET scan this week. It showed that the liver lesion was not there and
the pancreatic tumor had not shrunk that much, but was not growing. The oncologist wants
to continue with the same treatment of seven cycles of gemzar. With the clinical study he is on the dosages of gemzar have gone down to half the original dose. The doses can not be brought back up because of the study. Does anyone know if it would be best to get the high
dosages of gemzar for three weeks (he may possibly have to skip a week because of WBC)and
off one week or continue with seven straight weeks of the lower dosage? The oncologist said there is not any data to prove which is the right way.

Has anyone had this happen where the liver lesion has gone away, if so were you given a
more aggressive chemo to help the shrinking of the tumor? Also, I know surgery will always be out because that liver lesion showed up, but does anyone know of any other treatment that has been used on the pancreatic tumors? We have seen our oncologist only three times since starting treatment. I feel that he doesn't think this can be beat, so just do what has been done in the past with other patients.

Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2010

see the turmeric topic regarding pancreatic cancer they are doing their 2nd clinical trials at MD anderson in Houston on this spice

Posts: 89
Joined: Dec 2009

mjd107, be very careful of the advice you are giving.

Taking any supplements without informing your oncologist is reckless and stupid - MANY herbal supplements interact with medications and they need to know. Choosing to do this yourself is one thing.. advising others to take the supplements is another.

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