Pancreatic cancer at 80

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Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Robertn on Thu Jan 17, 2019 07:30 PM

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My husband has been diagnosed and the doctor wants to do whipple surgery but give him chemo before and after. Probably about 6 months worth in total. Has anyone had experience at this age? He was healthy and active..did lawn etc. will he be back to where he was besides change in eating habits? What questions do we need to ask the doctor? How long do he think it will take to get back to somewhat normal after the surgery if he has to do chemo then too? Do you think there are other alternatives that should be explored besides the surgery at this age? He wants quality of life. Thank you

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by AliveInOldeTown on Fri Jan 18, 2019 09:11 PM

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I had Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) at age 50.  I was active, in good health and physical condition before diagnosis and surgery.  As we always need to say, we are all different.  My experience was it took three years after surgery to regain my strength.  I restarted exercise and activity very soon after the surgery. My stamina has never really returned to what it was before diagnosis and surgery.  I have had and still have very good quality of life.  The surgery for me was challenging, but doable.  It was done 16 years ago.  I did not have chemo therapy, only surgery since the tumor was caught early stage, no metastasis.  Diet definitely changes.  I must take Creon with meals and snacks.  I became diabetic around 15 months after surgery as a result of the surgery.  I was able to control with diet and exercise until 2017, when I had to start insulin therapy.  Whatever path your husband chooses, sending best wishes for good results and quality of life..  

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Robertn on Mon Jan 21, 2019 04:33 PM

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On Jan 18, 2019 9:11 PM AliveInOldeTown wrote:

I had Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) at age 50.  I was active, in good health and physical condition before diagnosis and surgery.  As we always need to say, we are all different.  My experience was it took three years after surgery to regain my strength.  I restarted exercise and activity very soon after the surgery. My stamina has never really returned to what it was before diagnosis and surgery.  I have had and still have very good quality of life.  The surgery for me was challenging, but doable.  It was done 16 years ago.  I did not have chemo therapy, only surgery since the tumor was caught early stage, no metastasis.  Diet definitely changes.  I must take Creon with meals and snacks.  I became diabetic around 15 months after surgery as a result of the surgery.  I was able to control with diet and exercise until 2017, when I had to start insulin therapy.  Whatever path your husband chooses, sending best wishes for good results and quality of life..  

Thanks so much for your reply and your thoughts. VERY helpful. 

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by andrea74 on Wed Jan 23, 2019 05:30 AM

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Hello, 

My dad was 70 when he had the Whipple surgery. He was overweight and not very active at the time, especially since he had been suffering from what we now know were effects of the tumor on his gall bladder and more. I would suggest finding a surgeon that has done many Whipples, preferably laproscopic ones. That made a world of difference in his surgery and recovery. The surgery and recovery were tough. But we found foods he could eat and he followed the post-surgery diet to the letter. He was feeling pretty good after about eight weeks after the Whipple surgery, but then the chemo side effects hit. Not going to lie, the chemo was rough, and he stopped it a month short of the six month course. He eventually used medical marijuana because he just wasn't eating. I would be more pro-active with the doctor about chemo side effects. My dad was so sick, he couldn't advocate well for himself. But we are now about a year out of the Whipple and seven months after chemo, and other than some very minor digestive issues like gas, my dad is doing well. He is no longer diabetic and is eating all the foods he ate before. I think he still tires a bit more easily, but he is back to playing golf and taking care of the house. A year out, he is glad he went through it. We are hopeful he will have continued good health. I think everyone is different, but I don't think there are many good options other than surgery and chemo if you are looking for a hope of a cure. Best wishes to you and your husband! 

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Robertn on Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:59 PM

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Thanks so much for tier reply and so glad your dad is doing well. I too am concerned about all the chemo for so long after the operation since the operation is so severe.

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by longliveliver on Thu Jan 24, 2019 11:27 PM

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I had a modified Whipple surgery (incision, not laparoscopy) 2 and a half years ago.  The tumor was on the head of my pancreas.  I did not have chemo prior to surgery and for only about 3 months following.  Changed oncologists and my current oncologist ran batteries of tests for everything he could think of and no remaining cancer was found anywhere in my body, so he stopped chemo.  I did not have prior chemo, but had some rough times from the chemo afterward and it was harder to recover from than the Whipple.  

I definitely second the person who said get a surgeon who has done many Whpple surgeries, in a hospital familiar with Whipple surgeries.

If your father is in good health now and the cancer is localized (not metastaized) he has a very good chance of returning to a full life afterward.  I am not overweight (and wasnt at the time of surgery), no high blood pressure, no diabetes, and active.

If there is any way that he can avoid chemo, I would say that at his age (younger than I am—84!) and in the health you describe, surgery would be a much more reasonable choice than chemo.

Has he had a seond opinion—and not from someone in the same practice?  If he hasn't I urge you to get one.

I know that I have been very lucky in all of this—I had an excellent surgeon and the op was done at a major hospital (CPMC San Francisco).  I hope things go as well for him!

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Sisterquestions on Mon Jan 28, 2019 02:46 PM

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My sister was diagnosed in Apr. '18, didn't get all the dr.'s lined up until June.  Put in a plastic stent first for bile duct blockage, but it didn't hold, replaced 2 wks later w/a metal one.  Started Chemo in June.  She was very active, no previous diseases, in her 70's.  Chemo was harsh, but surgeon sd it was small enough to do the whipple.  It was laproscopic.  Very hard on the body. It's been 9 wks. out and still not able to keep food down, only water, juice and the nutritional drink.  Has a PIK line for over nt nutrition.  Had throat cked and did have a small ulcer.  On 2 meds for that.  Has gained some weight, (petite), and able to walk around w/a walker, but tires easily.  In a Rehab place because no one at home to take care of her.  The stomach can act paralyzed for several wks after surgery, so I'm hoping her surgeon can give her some answers when she goes in for her ckup this wk.

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Swannboro on Wed Feb 06, 2019 01:36 AM

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I Had my surgery at age 69, a tumor stage 1 in my pancreatic duct. I was extremly active before surgery, runner, and exercised.   It took me at least 6 mo. to get back to where I could sleep normally, was afraid to eat for a while, eating only very small portions.  Lost about 36 lbs initially, have since gained most of it back.  You ask about  having a normal life following recovery from surgery, well I for one can tell you, nothing will ever be the same, but it is not all bad.  I take the Creon before every meal, avoid fried foods, most of the time that is.  I eat pizza, and drink white wine once in a while, for me, all the pain that I had prior to my surgery was so bad, that life now is better in that respect.  Sounds like he is fit enough to endure the surgery, if not, they would not perform it. Very important that you use the very best surgeon who has done the most Whipples    This is not a surgery a " Rookie" should be performing.  Best of luck to you both.

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Robertn on Fri Feb 08, 2019 05:05 PM

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Thank you so much. Your information was very encouraging and I wish you the best. 

RE: Pancreatic cancer at 80

by Robertn on Fri Feb 08, 2019 06:27 PM

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Besides the surgery, did you also have chemo before and after surgery - tota of 6 months? Any radiation? If so I guess even with the chemo they thought you could do well with the surgery? 

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