Posts Tagged Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer Isn’t Aggressive

Posted by on Saturday, 18 August, 2012
A new doctor

Let's have a look at that pancreas


Five percent.

That’s the survival rate. By the time pancreatic cancer is found it’s been there for years. 11.7 years on average. You’re not gonna have much luck with a cancer that’s had 11.7 years to  spread.

11.7 years? You thought this was an aggressive cancer, right? Boom! And you’re a goner?

Nay, nay!  Pancreatic cancer is slow it seems. But it grows in a dark and dingy place. There’s plenty of time after the train leaves the station. But it’ll circle the world a million times before you notice something’s wrong. (Enough with the railroad metaphors?)


Here’s the good news. Dr. Mike Wallace,  a “gut guy” at the Mayo Clinic, discovered a way to use an endoscope (camera on a stalk)  to look at cells in the small intestine. These cells change their appearance if there’s cancer down in the pancreas. I know this sounds cheesy. Why would you look in the intestine? It surprised the Docs too. But it certainly seems to work (though they’re trying to reduce the number of “false positives”.)  The Mayo clinic is in charge of a great big trial to see if his Polarization Gating Spectroscopy technique won’t save lives. Perhaps a lot of them.

And that’s not all.

There’s a new drug, rigosertib, that is now in phase II/III clinical trials (published in Clinical Cancer Research)  and sounds very promising. It interferes with the peculiar timing of cancer cells so that they “get stuck” before completing their reproduction cycle and die out.

Pancreatic cancer’s one of the bad ones. Maybe, with some luck, that will change.

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Image credits: Thank you me.



Posted by on Tuesday, 30 March, 2010

STELLATE CELL ACTIVATION (Hey! I needed a picture.)

Oncology: Pancreatic Cancer. Head/Neck Cancer

What’s your favorite cancer?

I bet it isn’t pancreatic cancer.

The request queue for cancer’s pretty short. But the least popular members of this rather unpopular group of diseases may be things like the oral cancers (head and neck), pancreatic, and lung cancer. Course I haven’t taken a survey, and I bet there’re plenty of others that aren’t big favorites either. But if you DO have the bad luck to have a tumor, you want it to be at an early stage and easy to get at.

The pancreas, when it goes bad, doesn’t send off early warnings and it isn’t easy to get at. Aesthetics aside, things would probably work out much better with the pancreas if it were located on your ear. Signs of disease would be easier to spot early and snipping off the bad thing would be an outpatient procedure.


Well Mark Howard (University of Kent, School of Bioscience) hasn’t figured out a way to rotate your pancreas to your ear but he seems to be onto something equally (some would say more) exciting than a pancreas hanging off of your right ear:  cancer bullets.

Dr. Howard’s “thing” is the shape of certain amino acids (peptides). He was able to figure out how to optimize their ability to lock onto (bind with) cancer cells. Hook the amino acids to the right drugs, and you have a delivery system,  a “cancer bullet”.


You WOULD ask!

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad’s beat is science and Mark Howard is, in every sense, a scientist. But this is early in the process. It’s a remarkable accomplishment and he gets himself a ScienceAintSoBadRating of 10 which, while not a Nobel Prize, isn’t pigeon crap, either.  But that doesn’t mean this’ll permanently eradicate cancers. And, if it does, it remains to be seen if it will work for everyone. Those studies haven’t been done yet.

ScienceAintSoBadFingers are crossed.

Image attribution: Artwork by Robert Jaster under a Creative Commons license.

Pancreatic Cancer And Libraries and Whatnot

Posted by on Thursday, 8 October, 2009

photo courtesy of Creative Commons

LibaryScience:The Future Of Libaries

Books are being digitized.

Google’s taking the lead.

Having already digitized several million books, Google hopes to become a digital “Library of Alexandria”, a modest claim since the collection of the ancient Greeks was nothing compared to what has already been digitized by the big G.

But, in its day, the Library of Alexandria, with its 700,000 volumes of manuscripts, was the best library anywhere.

This seems to be Google’s hope too.

700,000 volumes is just spit in the ocean, these days. According to the Trivia Library, 277 of our books were written by a single person – Alexandre Duma pere (remember The Three Musketeers?) and that was before we had word processors. Two more writers, Mary Faulkner and Lauran Payne, have written a combined total of over 1650 books. If there’s a lost art, it isn’t the art of writing books.

Amazon presently sells more than 14 million different titles.

Google wants ’em all.

The specific agreement with the Authors Guild covering Google’s right to capture and distribute a wide variety of books including those that are out-of-print isn’t screwed down yet. There’s more suing and defending to be done.

But with, maybe, some modifications, Google is likely to prevail.

I assume that old-fashioned books will continue to be bought and sold for many years. Some say that digitization will even be good for the trade.

But what about libraries? How will such easy online access to books affect the repositories of printed material? What form will libraries take in the future? Will they disappear? Will they adapt? And what adaptations would make sense?

This year, there’s lots of talk about electronic books. But until recently, the idea was mostly dismissed as silly. Nothing could replace the experience of the printed page and no electronic device was gonna change that.

I don’t know what got into the book traditionalists. Was it Google? Was it Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s Reader? Or does it just take time for a new reality to sink in? But the inevitability of e-books isn’t far fetched anymore.

Whether books will endure or not, Googleizing them WILL turn your browser into a library and may EVENTUALLY undermine the old public libraries. And, meanwhile, the stubborn defenders of books have mutated into the stubborn defenders of the buildings that hold them.

Suddenly, libaries are wonderful places. Romantic. We’ve always loved them. With dusty printed matter out of the way, they would be good places to come to for community gatherings and ideal places to digitally look at books. Maybe they could be art centers.

I dunno. It doesn’t work for me.

I’m thinking an old library would be a great place for a gas station.


If the fluid pressure in your eye gets too high, it can harm the optic nerve and hurt your vision or cause blindness. The primary way Glaucoma is treated involves the drainage of this fluid – usually with drops, sometimes with surgery. But this development describes a whole new system of drainage.

Totally unknown till now.

A system for circulation of lymph in the eye just like in other parts of the body.


Glaucoma’s complicated. And intraoccular pressure isn’t always behind the degeneration of nerves (neuropathy). But getting the pressure down IS the focus of most therapy so this development is, potentially, a big deal.

Nice study. Nice conclusion.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10


Hearing loss is one of my favorite topics. Wearing hearing aids’ll do that.

The authors of this study, Josef Shargorodsky, Gary Curhan; Sharon, Curhan and Ronald Eavey, found that the much touted anti-oxidants don’t do a dang thing for hearing loss. Folates, on the other hand, seem to be truly effective, reducing the risk of hearing loss by 20% which, from a public health standpoint, is big.

Folates? They’re all over the place. Spinach, lettuce, turnips, beans, peas.

Fresh salad with your meals may be all it takes.

And, while we’re on the subject (of hearing loss), a group from the Scripps Research Institute is onto something too. They’ve discovered a gene which is related specifically to “age related hearing loss”. Since that’s the type of hearing loss that’s most prevalent, could be a good thing. LOTS of work to be done yet.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 7


The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than 5%. Dismal. This is primarily because most cancers of the pancreas aren’t caught until they’re quite advanced.

In fact there may be some early warning signs such as suddenly getting diabetes or persistently itchy feet. But wouldn’t it be great if there were a really reliable detection system?

Work in this area is intense. This, this, this, and this give some indication of the newest stuff.

Maybe one of these hopeful ideas will lead to real progress in catching cancer of the pancreas early. If ScienceAintSoBad had fingers, they would be crossed.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 6/10 (6 because it’s too early to know, 10 because of the importance. Make that an 11.)