Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

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Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Lyndac72 on Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:00 AM

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I have a dear friend who was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer today.  He has not even spoken to the oncologist to find out what they will do going forward.  Apparently his lymph nodes are clear.  I was wondering if they could remove most of the tumor and his pancreas, followed with traditional chemo and/or radiation therapy and look forward to a long life afterward.  He is 48.  Does anyone know of at least one case of this or am I being too optomistic?

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by PingPong_Ball on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:00 AM

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Yes, I'm alive.  My pancreas is now calling a medical waste landfill in New Jersey home as it was removed last October.  Before I was totally gutted like a fish, 75% of it was removed in August.

With only 25% of a pancreas, my body still produced some insulin & digestive enzymes.

A total pancdretomy (I always misspell this word to the point my spell check won't even give me suggestions)  will live your friend a diabetic and his body will no longer produce digestive enzymes.  This means he'll need to be careful of his diet, will be insulin dependant, and will need to take digestive enzyme pills when he eats.   A person can return to a somewhat normal life style if they eat right, exercise, and take care of themselves.  A strong network of support also helps, so your pal is lucky to have you as a friend.

The healing process from a total pancdretomy can be painful.  For example, it can take a few months for one's body to remember that food should go down into the stomach instead of coming back up.  Delayed Gastric emptying is no fun!  I made it a game called Will It Stay Down?  As a friend, one of the worst things you can do it give your buddy tips on how to eat if he experiences delayed gastric emptying.    For example, no one likes to be told to eat slower, take smaller bits, etc.  even if this advice is given out of love.  It's not how a person eats that results in delayed gastric emptying.  Feeding tubes can also look scary, but they play a pivotal role in recovering if they need to be installed.    

 As for the chemo,  that is the wild card.  How and if the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas will play a much bigger factor in a successful recovery than not having all or part of his pancreas.

I wish you the best!

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by AliveInOldeTown on Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:00 AM

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If your friend is able to have a surgery called Whipple procedure, where they remove part of your pancreas and other stuff, and if they are able to completely get the tumor, he has a good chance of being cured.  It is rare, but it does happen when the PC is caught early.  If there is no lymph node involvement, this is a very good sign. 

I had surgery November 2002.  I'm OK and have good quality of life.  Have to take pancreatic enzymes to properly digest food, but that is no big deal. I am also diabetic, but can control with diet and exercise, no medications. Five years post surgery, I showed a slight deficiency of vitamin B, so doctor had me start vitamins.  I was 50 years old at diagnosis and surgery.  I walk 4-5 miles almost every morning (except extreme bad weather), can eat anything I want (with enzymes) and most days feel good.  Is everything perfect - no, but my life is pretty darn good and I'm really happy to be here.  

I hope your friend has a good outcome.   

 

 

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by justchatting2007 on Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:00 AM

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I had a whipple in 1992. I am not a diabetic and do not have to supplement enzymes. They removed about 60% of it. I believe they typically find the cancer in the head of the pancreas. The tail of the pancreas has the cells that produce insulin so if they can leave enough he might not be a diabetic.

There is treatment for this. Keep your chin up.

I will be praying for you both.

Traci

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Trying2moveon on Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:00 AM

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I have been without a pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, part of my liver and part of my stomach since Apr 06.  I am a full fledged diabetic.  I will be going on the insulin pump in the next few weeks to help me control my blood sugars.   I am spending time with my family, working, eating, just like everyone else.  

The one thing you will notice about the other posts is the positive attitudes that everyone has.  It really helps to get through things. Some peopel find it morbid to make jokes about your situation (i really liked the landfill comment) but it helped me get by.  Take everything a day at a time and find support through family, friends and church.

 Good luck!!!!!

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Nysurvivor on Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:00 AM

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I had a whipple procedure in 1990.  In this procedure, they remove the tumor, in my case it was an Islet cell tumor in the head of the pancreas, and part of the pancreas.  I am happy to report that I am alive and well and living in Florida enjoying my life.  Yes, it is possible to live with part or, even all of the pancreas being removed.

Larry

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Malea on Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:00 AM

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Yes - you can live with part of your pancreas.  I had half of my pancreas tail surgically removed by Dr. Malafa at the H.Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida three years ago. - Feb 2005.  I have a good quality of life and I just take pancreatic enzymes to help digest things.  I have no problems with sugar or insulin imbalances, but I do not eat sweets or breads.  I consider myself a miracle on two feet !        I have learned to eat very pure foods - close to the vine as they say - and I feel good.   I do eat small meals - so I get to eat all day !    God Bless you on your journey towards healing. 

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Varunj3c3 on Wed Aug 07, 2013 05:34 AM

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On Jan 26, 2008 12:00 AM AliveInOldeTown wrote:

If your friend is able to have a surgery called Whipple procedure, where they remove part of your pancreas and other stuff, and if they are able to completely get the tumor, he has a good chance of being cured.  It is rare, but it does happen when the PC is caught early.  If there is no lymph node involvement, this is a very good sign. 

I had surgery November 2002.  I'm OK and have good quality of life.  Have to take pancreatic enzymes to properly digest food, but that is no big deal. I am also diabetic, but can control with diet and exercise, no medications. Five years post surgery, I showed a slight deficiency of vitamin B, so doctor had me start vitamins.  I was 50 years old at diagnosis and surgery.  I walk 4-5 miles almost every morning (except extreme bad weather), can eat anything I want (with enzymes) and most days feel good.  Is everything perfect - no, but my life is pretty darn good and I'm really happy to be here.  

I hope your friend has a good outcome.   

 

 

Hi Friend,

One of my dear uncle has udergone operation yeterday where doctors removed as 80% of his pancreas as it waas highly infected due to inflammation. Now his body's sugar level is keep on getting increased (he is diabetic from many years), and doctors are trying to keep it in check by giving high dose medicines.

Also his blood presuure is also highly stable.

Doctors have told as next couple of hours are very critical.

I am very much worried.

Please share if you have any as how the body reacts in such condition.

Thanks a lot,

Varun

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by wonderchild on Tue May 13, 2014 08:22 PM

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Hi,

I had 80 % of my pancreas removed, this past March 17th.  Still seem to be producing insulin (I test my sugar several times a week and it is within normal range).  Also, told that my body is still producing digestive enzymes.  I experiment a little each day but I can tell you that two pieces of even my husband's healthy pizza was one piece too much!  Mostly it is very healthy food and smaller amounts.  Also, they did not find any malignancy at the time of the surgery.  However, I will have MRI's every 6 months to follow up.  What about you?

So, after almost 6 years, how are you doing?  Are you still alive??  Do you still make contact with this website?

RE: Can you live without a portion of your pancreas?

by Heathersblessed on Thu May 15, 2014 02:58 AM

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Hi everyone! Glad to be here as we all are!  I've been reading thru these posts and the topic here is % of missing pancreas.  Seems like most are talking about the pancreas tail being removed. Diagnose date 12/8/2011, stage 3.  Doctors gave me 6 mos, however, today it has been almost 2 years. I am blessed.  I had the Whipple Jan 31, 2012, (pancreaticoduodenectomy, cholecystectomy (?)), 5 of 16 nodes positive. Margins were negative at .5mm. I was advised I could wake from surgery as a diabetic (which I thought was nothing compared to cancer), but was fortunate that was not so.  Final stage pT3N1Mx- which I have no idea what tht actually means.  I was treated with 6 of 12 stage IV colon cancer chemo drugs :5FU, Ocxaliplatin and Irinotecan. Yup, hair still growing back.

 I thought the Tail provides hormones, the Body makes insulin, and the Head makes enzymes.

So at this point, I have sneaky pains where it all started, and am told nothing shows on the non-contrast PET s. I am allergic to iodine, does anyone know of an alternative? Or have similar pains? Do you know if scar tissue shows on PETS with contrast?

I have decided to Peer navigate for those at our local cancer ctr as I had no one to talk with, ever.  I am thus far, a survivor so Im happy to be available!

GOD bless all who are affected, at all levels. It is a tough road no matter what your position is.

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