Pancreatic Cancer: No Cure After Surgery, Gemzar and TCM Herbs

This is an e-mail I received lately.

Dear Dr Teo,

I happened to chance upon your blog while doing some searches online on cancer and read about the many success stories of cancer patients under your care.

My mum was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2010 and had undergone the Whipple’s procedure to remove the cancerous cells at the head of her pancreas.

In July 2010, she started her chemotherapy, and was put under 6 cycles of Gemcitabine. After completing 6 cycles, at the end of December 2010, CA19-9 has decreased from 5204 to 106.9. About 2 weeks later, CA19-9 value rose to 224.2. The doctor then suggested for my mum to go for a CT-scan. CT-scan result showed that there were several tiny nodules in her lungs. Apart from that, there were no other abnormalities.

Based on the CT-scan result, the doctor told us that he’s sorry and that he is unable to cure my mum anymore as the cancer cells have spread to her lungs. He then asked us to go for a 2nd round of chemotherapy, this time using the combination of 2 drugs with strong side effects to control the growth of the cancer cells. Since there is no guarantee on the success of the treatment and taking into account the stronger side effects, my mum rejected the treatment and has been consulting a Chinese physician specializing in cancer. After taking the herbs prescribed by the Chinese physician for 7 months, the CA19-9 did not decrease but rose exponentially to a value of 66,490 in late June.

My mum has been feeling fine at the start of the year, but somewhere in April 2011, she started having backache and bloatedness in her stomach. At around mid June, she started having diarrhea, followed by serve pain at her back, causing some difficulties in her movement. She has also started coughing about a week ago.

We know that the herbs prescribed by the Chinese physician are not working. But I know my mum has a strong will to live on. It would be really great if you can help us and I look forward to hear from you soon.

Thank you.

Reply:  Well, if you think we can help you, come and see me in Penang with all the medical reports and scan.

Daughter’s First Visit

On the afternoon of Friday 12 August 2011, the daughter of this patient came from Singapore. The following are additional details about her mother’s story.

  1. Her problem started with jaundice and after two weeks the patient went to see a doctor. She was diagnosed to have cancer of the pancreatic head with obstructive jaundice. Histology showed pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma with lymph node metastasis.
  2. She underwent six cycles of chemotherapy. Each cycle consisted of three injections split over a period of one month. So patient received a total of 18 injections. Each cycle cost about S$2,500.
  3. Before the treatment the doctor told patient that she had a high chance of cure. Things worked out rather well from Chemo 1 to Chemo 17. Her CA 19.9 was dropping. At Chemo 5, CA 19.9 dropped from 5204 to 106.9 plus. But a week after Chemo 18, CA 19.9 started to rise from 100 plus to 224.2. The oncologist said, “Something has gone wrong.”
  4. A CT scan on 18 January 2011 showed several new tiny pulmonary nodules in both lungs. The oncologist said she has to do more chemo. There was no guarantee, but just to test out if it works. Patient refused further medical treatment.
  5. While undergoing medical treatment, patients also took herbs from the TCM section of the hospital and she has been under the care of the TCM practitioners from the beginning until the present. TCM consultation cost S$80.00 each time and the herbs cost S$10 per packet – to be brewed into tea as a dose each day.
  6. The CA 19.9 now stands at 66,490.

Our advice: We told her it is indeed a difficult case to handle and please don’t expect us to cure her mother. We at CA Care believe that no one can cure cancer in the first place. But we can try our best to help.

Latest Update

Hi Dr Chris,

My mum has been taking cough No.5 & 6 and the diarrhea and indigestion tea since last Saturday (27 August 2011) until Wednesday (31 August 2011). However, her condition has not improved. Nevertheless, she’s still taking Capsule A, Pancreas 1, Pancreas 2 and Stomach Function Tea daily. I did check with her about how she felt after taking your pain tea, but she’s also not too sure if the pain tea is working on her as her back pain is on and off. Therefore, I still continue to give her the pain tea 3 times a day.

The hospice home care team came to visit my mum on Thursday (1 September 2011) and started her on the painkiller, hoping to give her some relief, allowing her to have some good rest since she has not been able to sleep since her back pain started. They tried Panadeine on her initially but it only managed to reduce her pain by half, so they started her on Tramadol and Durogesic. Apart from the pain, she’s suffering from the side effects of the painkiller now, feeling dizzy and has also been vomiting since this morning. But the doctor mentioned that the side effects will go off in a week’s time as her body tries to adjust to the painkiller. I’m feeling rather lost now and not sure what to do…

Hello Ying Lee,

It is a difficult problem — as I have told you earlier. You have done your best. I have tried to give you all that I have here. If it still does not work, you need to rely on the Hospice … and go on the painkillers. Yes, with all the side effects but what else can we do?If the herbs are not helping — no use taking them. I am sorry I cannot help you much at this point. If you are in Penang perhaps it would be bit different.

You can hear more details by watching this video clip.

 

 

Comments:

Can surgery cure pancreatic cancer? I typed this question for Google search. Read what it says:

From the American Cancer Society: Potentially curative surgery is used when imaging tests suggest that it is possible to remove all the cancer. Whipple procedure: For patients to have the best outcomes, they should be treated by a surgeon who does many of these operations … at least 20 Whipple procedures per year. At the time of diagnosis, only about 10% of cancers of the pancreas appear to be contained entirely within the pancreas. Only about half of these turn out to be truly resectable once the surgery is started. Still, even if all the visible tumor is removed at the time of surgery, some cancer cells may have already spread to other parts of the body. These cells may eventually grow into new tumors and cause many problems — even death.

From the Seena Magowitz Foundation – the Face and Voice of Pancreatic Cancer:  Whipple surgery is often a surgical option when pancreatic cancer is found in the head of the pancreas. It involves removal of the pancreas head, most of the duodenum (small intestine), a portion of the bile duct, gallbladder, part of the jejunum and the lymph nodes located near the pancreas. Sometimes a portion of the stomach may also be removed. The Whipple Operation does not cure pancreatic cancer. It is an option that has been positively demonstrated to extend survival with a better quality of remaining life. There are risks during surgery that includes chances of not surviving the operation. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments following surgery can increase life-span by about 10%. http://www.seenamagowitzfoundation.org/whipple-operation.html

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez (http://www.dr-gonzalez.com), of New York, USA, in the book, Knock Out written by Suzanne Somers, said,

“It is hard for me to believe that an oncologist who has gone through four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency, and then three years of oncology postresidency training can’t connect the dots. You have to be an idiot not to be aware that for most of the cancers chemo isn’t doing anything. It’s in all the journals. It’s not like it’s a secret.”

“The fact of the matter is that 95 percent of the patients who call my office have been brutalized by the orthodox system … my staff just sits there dumbfounded by their stories, story after story, over and over again. Everyday.”

“Spend a one day in my office listening to the dozens of people who call in with these horror stories about the conventional therapies that were pushed on them with false hope, then you will see why we get upset when we are criticized as alternative guys offering false hope. These people come to me half-dead because they were promised that these treatments could work, and we see this in particular with patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer because we are known for treating pancreatic cancer.”

“They have compared Gemzar … Median survival improved from 4.2 months to only 5.7 months – about one extra month of life for this expensive drug. Not a single patient out of 126 in the study lived longer than 19 months. But Gemzar has been considered such an advance that the FDA approved it … Gemzar is used all over the world. One month improvement in survival and not one patient in the clinical study lived longer than 19 months, and that has been considered a major advance.”

In the same book by Susan Somers, Dr. Ralph Moss, a highly respected advocate of non-conventional cancer treatment, said,

“Gemzar … is relatively benign and also has minimal effects. You rarely hear about people having major side effects with Gemzar … (it is) a mild form of chemotherapy. (It is) given as a kind of placebo, meaning when they have nothing else to give and they don’t want to burden the patient with a lot of side effects, they give this drug and everybody is happy. The patients feel that something is being done for them, and the doctors gets paid for administering or prescribing something. Then the patients expire and the families feel that at least they tried.”

Response from Susan Somers:

“This is the part I don’t understand – the patient is given drugs that don’t do much and at the end the family is grateful. Recently a young friend of mine died of pancreatic cancer, stage IV. I have never seen such destruction of a human body as I watched him disintegrate and die in four months. Then a few weeks after the death, his wife called and asked if I would come perform for a fund-raiser for his doctor. And I thought, They just killed your husband.”

 

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