Can a dietary supplement cure pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer(Pancreatic cancer): Cancer mostly originating in the lining of the small pancreatic ducts. It occurs mainly between the ages of 60 and 80; Men are affected more frequently than women. The risk is three times higher for smokers, as well as for chronic, hereditary pancreatitis and some rare hereditary diseases. Since the cancer initially causes hardly any symptoms, the diagnosis is often only made at an advanced stage, in which an operation with the aim of completely removing the tumor is rarely possible. The prognosis is therefore poor, the 5-year survival time of all pancreatic cancers is less than 2%.

In addition to pancreatic cancer, which does not produce hormones, there are also various benign and malignant hormone-forming tumors of the pancreatic cells.

Leading complaints

  • Upper abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue, decreased performance, weight loss
  • Pain that stretches from the upper abdomen into the back in a belt shape
  • Sometimes jaundice, when the cancer is in the head of the pancreas and narrows the bile duct
  • Rarely thromboses of unknown cause
  • Often later diabetes.

When to the doctor

In the next days

  • with the above complaints.

The illness

Causes and Risk Factors

After colon cancer and stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer is the most common malignant tumor of the gastrointestinal area. Most of the time, the cancer originates in the cells of the duct system. It is not known why the cells become malignant. However, there are some risk factors that favor this development. This includes


Most of the sick do not notice signs of illness until late. These include weight loss, fatigue, decreased performance or slight pain in the upper abdomen, which is associated with indigestion. In rare cases, patients see a doctor because they have upper abdominal pain. More often, however, the disease is only discovered when patients develop jaundice (jaundice). Then it is often too late for a cure, as jaundice usually only occurs after the cancer has been growing for a long time.


Due to its central location, advanced pancreatic cancer causes numerous complications. It spreads metastases early on, especially in the liver, in the peritoneum (peritoneal carcinosis), but also in the lungs and bones. When it gets bigger, it presses on the stomach outlet and / or the bile duct and it comes to a gastric outlet obstruction with vomiting and nausea or biliary disorders with jaundice. If insulin-producing islet cell tissue perishes as a result of the malignant growth, an insulin deficiency develops with diabetes mellitus.

Diagnostic assurance

Upper abdominal discomfort, nausea and jaundice ultimately lead the patient to the family doctor. He sometimes notices a firm resistance when palpating the upper abdomen. The ultrasound examination confirms the suspicion of pancreatic cancer, and the doctor may also discover liver metastases. A particularly typical sign of pancreatic cancer is the double-duct sign in the ultrasound, in which both the bile duct and the pancreatic duct are obstructed by the malignant tumor and enlarged by the accumulation of the secretions.

CT and magnetic resonance imaging (possibly together with MRCP and magnetic resonance angiography) as well as endosonography confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease. If the image is unclear, a biopsy with a tissue examination of the puncture is necessary. Doctors usually take this biopsy with the help of ERCP and endosonography.

Propagation diagnostics

Doctors assess whether distant metastases are present as part of the spread diagnosis. This includes B. a CT scan of the chest to detect lung metastases or ultrasound examinations. Bone metastases can be found primarily with the help of skeletal scintigraphy, a diagnostic method from nuclear medicine. If the findings are unclear, doctors also perform a diagnostic laparoscopy before surgical tumor removal to detect complications such as peritoneal carcinosis or small metastases.

Differential diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is considered difficult to diagnose. In particular, the symptoms are similar to those of chronic pancreatitis, gallbladder cancer or a pancreatic cyst.


Operative treatment

If the cancer is confined to the pancreas and the tumor is small, the surgeon will attempt to remove it completely through surgery. Unfortunately, this is only possible in a very small number of patients, most commonly in cancer of the head of the pancreas.

The classic operation to remove the pancreas (Whipple operation) is very engaging. Doctors remove not only the pancreas, but also the duodenum, gallbladder and part of the stomach. The mortality from this operation is 15%. Therefore, less radical surgical procedures are preferred today, in which at least the stomach is preserved. If only the body or tail of the pancreas is affected by a tumor, only these parts of the pancreas including the spleen are removed.

Palliative treatment

In the vast majority of patients, surgical removal of the tumor is not possible. Here the doctor tries to relieve the pain and to maintain the digestive function with surgical procedures, chemotherapy and radiation.

  • If the bile builds up causing itching and jaundice, a functioning bile drain must be created. To do this, the doctor places a stent in the narrowed pancreas or bile duct or creates an artificial connection between the bile duct and the intestine. A drainage of the bile to the outside is also possible (PTCD - percutaneous transhepatic cholangiodrainage).
  • If the stomach outlet is narrowed by the tumor, the doctor can surgically establish a connection between the stomach and intestines in order to bypass the constriction. In some cases, the patient is also given a special gastric tube for relief to relieve nausea and vomiting (PEG tube).
  • The often excruciatingly severe pain, which cannot be sufficiently relieved with painkillers, may require the destruction of sensitive nerves in the abdominal cavity. Doctors often irradiate painful metastases in the brain and bones directly.
  • Palliative chemotherapy can extend the lifespan by a few months. Are used for this z. B. Gemcitabine and Erlotinib. However, doctors sometimes recommend discontinuing palliative chemotherapy if the side effects are very severe and the prognosis is significantly reduced.


Particularly after the Whipple operation, intensive medical monitoring and a slow, carefully planned diet are essential. Since there is pancreatic insufficiency, the digestive enzymes no longer produced by the pancreas in the form of enteric micropellets (e.g. Kreon®) must be taken in sufficient doses with each meal. Insulin therapy is also necessary. Overall, the quality of life of those affected is often severely restricted.


The prognosis is very poor: the average survival time at the time of diagnosis is between 6 and 24 months. In the case of very small operable tumors (maximum diameter 2 cm) without metastases, the 5-year survival rate is 40%. In later stages, surgery is expected to be 15%. If only palliative therapy is used, the 5-year survival rate is 0%.

Your pharmacy recommends

Smoking, alcohol and being overweight are known risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer. A generally healthy lifestyle has a preventive effect:

  • Quit smoking. For complete tips on smoking cessation, see Nicotine Addiction, Smoking Cessation Section
  • Moderate alcohol consumption. As risk-free threshold dose 10–12 g of pure alcohol per day apply for healthy, non-pregnant women and 20–24 g for men. 10 to 12 g of alcohol correspond to approx
    • 0.25 l beer (5 vol%)
    • 0.1 l wine / sparkling wine (11 vol%)
    • 0.2 l long drink with 4 cl vodka (38% vol)
    • 0.04 l of spirit (38% by volume). More about alcohol addiction and about withdrawal and withdrawal from alcohol addiction
  • Regular exercise. Get going, ride a bike, take long walks, start walking, jogging or swimming. A pleasant side effect: if you are overweight, these activities will help you lose weight moderately.


Dr. med. Arne Schäffler, Dr. Bernadette Andre-Wallis in: Health Today, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Revision and update: Dr. med. Sonja Kempinski | last changed on at 09:12

Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.