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by seph

Cancer Of The Pancreas: How Life-threatening Can It Get In Five Years

9:46 pm in Weight Problems by seph

Using data released by the American Cancer Society (ACS), medical experts say that of the patients diagnosed with cancer of the exocrine pancreas, only 23 percent may survive after one year while only four percent will still be living after the end of five years. This ailment, which may be life-threatening, has been in the limelight recently when a prominent researcher revealed a link between the drug Byetta and pancreatic cancer.


Although the cause of pancreatic cancer has yet to be determined, the medical world has recognized risk factors of this disease. Included as risk factors are chronic pancreatitis, genetic disposition, smoking, unhealthy diet, alcohol use, and obesity.


Formation of malignant cells in the tissues of the pancreas signals the start of pancreatic cancer. The pancreas is a gland located behind the abdomen in an extended horizontal position and is responsible for the production of digestive juices and hormones. Aiding in the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, digestive juices or enzymes are secreted from the pancreas. The hormones insulin and glucagon are also produced by this organ to help regulate the metabolism of blood sugar. The hormones are produced by the endocrine pancreas while the enzymes are secreted from the exocrine pancreas cells.


Onset of this disease occurs when cells in the pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. A tumor may then be formed due to the continued mutation which results to the uncontrollable growth of these cells. Growth of these cells usually occurs along the ducts of the pancreas which then leads to pancreatic exocrine cancer. Also known as pancreatic adenocarcinoma, this is the most common form of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases.


This disease has been called the silent killer since it is only in the advanced stage and where surgical options are not possible that symptoms appear. Usually in the later stages when these symptoms do appear, they come in the form of abdominal pain in the upper area that radiates to the back and jaundice which is characterized by yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. The tumor pressing on the nerves is the cause for this pain while the interference of the cancer in the bile duct and liver may cause jaundice. Included also as symptoms of this disease are loss of appetite, fatigue, an unexplained weight loss and depression.


This disease has become a leading cause of death and one reason may be due to the poor prognosis of this type of cancer even when diagnosed early. Once these symptoms appear, it is very crucial that you immediately see your doctor.



by seph

FDA, Doctors See No Link Between Pancreatic Cancer, Byetta-type Drugs

2:32 am in Weight Problems by seph

Medical authorities see no increased risk between pancreatic cancer and Byetta-type pharmaceutical formulations, reports, mentioning initial reactions from certain doctors attending the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conference. Reactions from these doctors were given after listening to presentations of medical experts, among them Dr. Peter Butler who conducted a study linking these drugs to pancreatic cancer. The evaluation of various studies was hoped to allow concerned agencies to resolve the issue particularly for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) who have been getting bad raps from the British Medical Journal on the handling of the Byetta and pancreatic cancer controversy.


There were many questions raised and there was much skepticism regarding the risk of cancer of the pancreas, according to Dr. Joseph Whitcomb, an expert of the pancreas and who acted as co-chairman of the NIDDK meeting. Dr. John Buse of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine also stated that no signal of pancreatic cancer can be detected based on the data from companies and other investigators. It would seem that the presentations of medical experts connected with drug manufacturers were given more credence by these doctors over the study conducted by Dr. Peter Butler.



Three points were raised by Dr. Whitcomb in assailing the clinical trials performed by the team of Dr. Butler. Pointed out as the first concern was the ages of the subjects for both the control group who were in their 30s and the patients who were found to have pancreatic cancer who were in their 50s. According to the doctor, the critical issue was in defining the appropriate control group and when the right control group is used, there is no evidence of increased risk.


The lesion found by Dr. Butler, the alpha-hyperplasia, is the wrong kind of cancer was asserted by Dr. Whitcomb. Pancreatic cancer is associated with glucagonoma, which was never discovered, and not hyperplasia.


The use of the weight of the pancreas in calculating hyperplasia was another point raised by the doctor. The results of the study may have been affected by this since, according to Dr. Whitcomb, the pancreas of those with diabetes and in the elderly people tends to shrink.  


On the other hand, both doctors gave weight to the claims of Dr. Alan Moses, the global chief medical officer of Novo Noridisk and Dr. Sam Enger, the medical expert from Merck. An analysis based on a five-year study was presented by Dr. Moses which showed that the risk of pancreatic cancer was 0.7 compared to other diabetes drugs such as the widely-used metformin. In the study conducted by Merck using 14,000 patients from 25 randomized clinical trials, it was concluded that there was no increased risk of pancreatic cancer with use of their medications.


Based on their reactions, even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would seem to agree with the position of both doctors which suggests that no signal of pancreatic cancer can be detected. This was based on its own evaluation using different studies and independent of those conducted by pharmaceutical companies. Vigilant monitoring of the issue as well as supporting long-term studies on the subject have been assured by the FDA perhaps to assuage everyone concerned and to be on the safe side.


It is unfortunate that the side of Dr. Butler was not aired to answer these questions raised by the two doctors who incidentally have relationships with drug manufacturers. Reactions of the two doctors on the recommendations of the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) and on the results of other studies such as the one conducted by Dr. Singh of the John Hopkins University would also be very welcomed by the millions of people affected with diabetes.



by seph

Results Of Studies On Byetta Complications Alarm FDA

7:32 pm in Weight Problems by seph


Using the new findings of academic researchers on the possible risks associated with the use of a class of drugs called incretin, which includes the Byetta injectable, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, according to their statement released in March this year. These researches included one which was undertaken very recently and determined that the continued use of Byetta may increase the risk of thyroid cancer.


Additional data such as details of the study and tissue samples have already been requested by the agency which it may use for further evaluation. Forum for this evaluation will be the  National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Workshop which the FDA will participate this coming June. The agency is hoping to come up with conclusions and recommendations regarding this issue after sharing and gathering relevant inputs during the workshop.



Concerned sectors are hoping that the FDA will be able to come up with more decisive actions to address this serious and growing problem. Confronted with the same issue in previous years, the FDA’s actions consisted of issuing notices to healthcare providers and ordering manufacturers to amend their labels by indicating possible risks involved in the use of these medications. Adverse reports at that time indicated that the use of Byetta was associated with the increase in complications affecting the pancreas and other important organs.


More serious problems resulting from the continued use of Byetta medications have been pointed out by the latest studies of these different research groups. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, using the adverse reports provided by the FDA, reported that in a span of one year, over 105 cases of pancreatic cancer were observed as compared to only two patients who were using a different type of diabetes medication. An earlier research made by the University of California in Los Angeles where it reported an increase in pre-cancerous cellular changes by as much as 40 percent is supported by this latest study by ISMP.


The continued use of Byetta and other drugs in the same class may increase the risk of a patient in developing thyroid cancer, according to a report in the medical journal Gastroenterology, based on the study conducted by Dr. Peter Butler. The same negative findings, based on a different study, were also reported in the GI & Hepatology News, which is the official newsletter of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).