The Anonymous Widower

‘Biggest Breakthrough’ On Pancreatic Cancer Is On The Horizon As Scientists Hail Two-In-One Teatment That Could Even CURE The Disease

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Daily Mail.

These three paragraphs give an introduction to the research.

Scientists are on the cusp of the ‘biggest ever’ breakthrough in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

UK researchers have developed a two-in-one treatment that could dramatically improve survival and even cure the disease, which is one of the deadliest cancers.

Survival rates for pancreatic cancer have barely improved in the last 50 years and it has the worst prognosis of any common cancer.

It is a state, that you don’t want to go near.

This is the heart of the new two-in-one treatment.

One of the treatments is immunotherapy, whereby a drug fires up the immune system to fight the cancer.

The drug is a checkpoint inhibitor, which means it blocks proteins that stop the immune system from attacking cancer cells. It has had stunning results against some types of cancer.

But pancreatic cancer tumours have a thick outer layer which stops the drug in its tracks.

The second treatment, known as high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), involves blasting the tumour with pulses of sound waves.

This creates tiny bubbles in the cells, which bounce around with such force that they puncture holes in the protective barrier – allowing the immunotherapy drug to get to work.

I find it strange that I when I wrote Glencore & Strategic Partner Britishvolt Strengthen Relationship And Agree To Build Battery Recycling Ecosystem In The UK, I found that a similar technique is being investigated by the Faraday Institute in the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

In this article on the BBC, which is entitled As The World looks To Electrify Vehicles And Store Renewable Power, One Giant Challenge Looms: What Will Happen To All The Old Lithium Batteries?, I found this paragraph.

The team has also found a way to achieve direct recycling of the anode and cathode using an ultrasonic probe, “like what the dentist uses to clean your teeth,” he explains. “It focuses ultrasound on a surface which creates tiny bubbles that implode and blast the coating off the surface.” This process avoids having to shred the battery parts, which can make recovering them exceedingly difficult.

Umpteen million tiny bubbles can’t be wrong! It sounds to me that engineers from the Faraday Institute and Medics from the Institute of Cancer Research have been imbibing pints of the thinking man’s liqueur; real ale in a serious meeting in a pub.

But if it works don’t knock it! Just use the technique on your project to remove an awkward coating.

My son, who died of pancreatic cancer was a coeliac like me, but he had never been tested and as he was a sound engineer in the music business, he lived on a diet of Subways, cigarettes and high strength cannabis.

I asked the Professor at Liverpool University’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Unit, if this had contributed to his death and he nodded.

But my son certainly, didn’t have my strong immune system, which is because I’m coeliac and have been gluten-free for nearly thirty years. I know it is strong, as it gave the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine a good kicking. But by the time I got the second dose, it had worked out it was a friend, so I got no reaction.

I have three questions.

What is the hard skin of the pancreatic cancer made from?

Do all cancers have hard skins?

When patients are given immunotherapy drugs, do they go gluten-free for a Tesco effect (Every little helps!)?

February 7, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Guided Beam Treatment Is Extending Life For Patients With Pancreatic Cancer

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The lives of patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer could be extended by years with a “game-changing” radiation treatment that uses MRI technology to accurately target tumours.

A study has found that MRI-guided radiotherapy almost doubles the median survival rate in cases of inoperable pancreatic cancer compared with conventional treatment that uses CT scans.

It looks like a case of the more accurately you target your weapon, the more effective it is.

A few years before she died of a much more serious but totally unrelated cancer, my wife suffered from breast cancer.

  • The cancer wasn’t massive and it had probably been caused by a severe bruise, where she had been struck by an exploding air-bag in a car accident.
  • She also had a top-class surgeon in Cambridge. Barristers always get the best, as local chambers always know those who are being sued for malpractice.
  • To make sure, the cancer didn’t return she had targeted radiotherapy in Harley Street daily for four or five weeks.
  • She even travelled up to London from Suffolk daily on the train, often fitting Court appearances around the appointments.
  • A few weeks before she died, she was checked for breast cancer and pronounced clear.

The treatment had worked and it convinced me of the value of targeted radiotherapy.

I must say, it increases my optimism, that pancreatic cancer might be one cancer, where we can at least prolong life in many cases.

My optimism about pancreatic cancer probably started , after the results of the research to which I added funding in a small way were published. I wrote about them in There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!.

February 7, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

Life After Pancreatic Cancer

The London Marathon always throws up human stories.

This one from the Argus, which is entitled Youngest London Marathon Runner Raising Funds For Medics Who Saved Her Life, is one of the best I can remember.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The youngest runner in the London Marathon is undertaking the challenge to raise money for the medics who saved her life by carrying out surgery to remove a tumour from her gut the size of a large grapefruit.

Lucy Harvey, from Poole, Dorset, was admitted to Poole Hospital in January 2019 with appendicitis, but the pre-op scans identified a mass on her pancreas.

This story has really touched me.

  • My son died at 37 from pancreatic cancer.
  • His daughter, who is now eighteen, was born with a congenital hernia of the diaphragm and was saved by heroic surgery in the Royal London Hospital by Vanessa Wright.
  • I support pancreatic cancer research at Liverpool University, where I met my late wife in the 1960s.
  • I raised a little bit of money, for the pancreatic cancer study I talk about in There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!.

My granddaughter now lives a reasonably normal life!

October 3, 2021 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Curious Link Between Pancreatic Cancer And COVID-19

i am involved in fund raising for pancreatic cancer research at Liverpool University, because my youngest son died of the awful disease, at just thirty-seven, leaving a widow and an eight-year-old daughter.

I am also a passionate analyser of data and databases.

For a few weeks now, I have had a feeling that there is a connection between pancreatic cancer and the  old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I found this simple description of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on this page on the Internet.

The former Austro-Hungarian Empire was spread over a large part of Central Europe, it comprises present Austria and Hungary as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and parts of present Poland, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro.

I had been looking at pancreatic cancer data on the World Life Expectancy database, which is based on World Health Organisation data.

I have built this table, which shows the top twenty countries for a death rate from pancreatic cancer.

These are the columns.

  1. Country
  2. Rate of pancreatic cancer deaths per 100,000 of the population.
  3. Quarantine or Travel Corridor based on this page of the Government web site.
  4. Member of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

These are the top twenty countries.

  1. Hungary – 11.35 – Quarantine – AHE
  2. Uruguay – 10.72 – Quarantine
  3. Armenia – 10.34 – Quarantine
  4. Malta – 10.01 – Quarantine
  5. Czech Republic – 9.89 – Quarantine – AHE
  6. Estonia – 9.26 – Travel Corridor
  7. Iceland – 9.21 – Quarantine
  8. Israel – 9.18 – Quarantine
  9. Slovakia – 9.17 – Quarantine – AHE
  10. Austria – 9.13 – Quarantine – AHE
  11. Finland – 8.78 – Travel Corridor
  12. Japan – 8.74 – Travel Corridor
  13. Latvia – 8.72 – Travel Corridor
  14. Germany – 8.68 – Travel Corridor
  15. Slovenia – 8.55 – Quarantine – AHE
  16. Denmark – 8.51 – Quarantine
  17. Netherlands – 8.38 – Quarantine
  18. Croatia – 8.30 – Quarantine – AHE
  19. Lithuania – 8.21 – Travel Corridor
  20. Luxembourg – 8.15 – Quarantine

Note.

  1. I would hope that the Government’s Travel Corridor list has been devised in a scientifically-correct manner.
  2. Am I right to assume that the Travel Corridor list is a good measure of the level of Covid-19 in the country?
  3. The pancreatic cancer data is from 2018.

Of the countries I mentioned earlier, as being partly in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, only Montenegro is in the top thirty countries for pancreatic cancer deaths.

My Thoughts On The Data

These are my thoughts on the data.

The Significance Of The Austro-Hungarian Empire

Consider.

  • All the countries that were fully or partly in the Austro-Hungarian Empire  are on the Government Quarantine List, with the exception of Italy.
  • Many will argue, including myself, that Italy, has too high a Covid-19 rate for a visit.
  • Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia are in the top twenty countries for pancreatic cancer deaths.

It looks to me, that there is a correlation in there somewhere.

Germany And Japan Are The Odd Ones Out

The list of countries with high levels of pancreatic cancer, where there is no quarantine are.

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Germany
  • Lithuania

If you eliminate the Baltic States and Finland from the worse countries for pancreatic cancer, you’re left with Germany and Japan.

Is There A Jewish Dimension?

I ask this question for these reasons.

  • Israel is eighth on the pancreatic cancer list and has high levels of Covid-19 according to various news reports, like this one on the BBC, which is entitled Coronavirus: Israel Tightens Second Lockdown Amid Acrimony.
  • I am not Jewish, but my great-great-great-grandfather from Konigsberg probably was and it looks like I inherited my coeliac disease from him and gave it to my son, who died from pancreatic cancer.
  • The Baltic States and Finland, don’t seem to have large Jewish populations for various reasons and they have high levels of pancreatic cancer, but low levels of Covid-19.
  • Germany has the third largest Jewish population in Europe, but seems to have done well in fighting Covid-19. Is that because their well-funded healthcare system has worked?
  • Wikipedia states that, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was favourable to the Jews and even a sizeable numbers of its Army officers in Word War One were Jewish.
  • According to reports locally and my observations, it appears that the Jewish community in Hackney, where I live has been badly hit by Covid-19.

I need an appropriate historian to give me answers.

Conclusion

I believe the correlation between pancreatic cancer and Covid-19 could be rather strong. More research needs to be done, as to why.

But I do wonder, if undiagnosed coeliac disease, as in my son, could be the alligator in the swamp.

Undiagnosed coeliacs seem to have poor immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to everything, that’s going around.

The more I learn about coeliac disease and its myriad effects on health, the more I’m convinced that it should be one of the diseases checked for in all young children.

It would certainly have changed my miserable always-ill childhood for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 3, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pancreatic Cancer Deaths Around The World

This data is from a web site called World Life Expectancy.

My son died at just 37 and if I can save one person’s family, from the same anguish, that I have suffered, it would have been worth it.

The data is World Health Organisation data from 2018, and the figures shown are as follows.

  1. Age adjusted death rate per 100,000 of the population
  2. World ranking
  3. Rating in the country of pancreatic cancer amongst all deaths.

The country name links to the data.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Top Ten Countries

These are the top ten countries.

  1. Hungary
  2. Uruguay
  3. Armemia
  4. Malta
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Estonia
  7. Iceland
  8. Israel
  9. Slovakia
  10. Austria

The full list is on the World Life Expectancy web site.

From the top ten, it looks to me, that pancreatic cancer seems to be common in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I also think there could be a Jewish connection.

In the history of Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Wikipedia, this is an extract, that talks about Jews around 1900.

In that period, the majority of Jews in Austria-Hungary lived in small towns (shtetls) in Galicia and rural areas in Hungary and Bohemia; however, they had large communities and even local majorities in the downtown districts of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. Of the pre-World War I military forces of the major European powers, the Austro-Hungarian army was almost alone in its regular promotion of Jews to positions of command. While the Jewish population of the lands of the Dual Monarchy was about five percent, Jews made up nearly eighteen percent of the reserve officer corps. Thanks to the modernity of the constitution and to the benevolence of emperor Franz Joseph, the Austrian Jews came to regard the era of Austria-Hungary as a golden era of their history.

That doesn’t sound like they were suffering large amounts of anti-semitism, as they had for a long time in the Baltic States and East Prussia, where my ancestor emigrated to England around 1800.

I need some help here from a Jewish historian.

But the statistics and geography  are indicating to me, that Jews from the Austro-Hungarian Empire could have chosen to emigate through the Balkans to Palestine, when they saw the way the tide was turning after World War One.

I know a bit about life in Palestine in the 1930s, because at one period of my life, my next-door neighbour was a retired British Officer, who was stationed in the country. He was actually in the King David Hotel, when it was blown up. Charles is long-dead now, but I wished I’d recorded his memories, as in today’s Middle East climate, they would be an unusual insight.

But why Iceland, Malta and Uruguay?

Ireland And The United Kingdom

As could be expected, Ireland and the United Kingdom are fairly close together in the table; at 40 and 44 respectively.

  • Just men and the positions are 49 and 51.
  • Just women and it’s 37 and 42.

In the tables, Canada and Australia are just below the United Kingdom, with New Zealand a few places further down.

Cambodia, Laos And Vietnam

To a coeliac like me, Cambodia is interesting, as they are reckoned to have the most gluten-free cuisine in the world.

But these three countries, are all in the bottom third of the table, along with some other major countries, whose food has a lot of rice; Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.

I know gluten affects my health, but if your diet contains little gluten, does that lower, your chance of getting pancreatic cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

There’s More To Liverpool Than Football And The Beatles!

This morning, this story on the BBC web site entitled ‘Major Win’ In Pancreatic Cancer Fight is one of the top stories. This is said.

A new combination of chemotherapy drugs should become the main therapy for pancreatic cancer, say UK researchers.

The disease is so hard to treat that survival rates have barely changed for decades.

But data, presented at the world’s biggest cancer conference, showed long-term survival could be increased from 16% to 29%.

The findings have been described as a “major win”, “incredibly exciting” and as offering new hope to patients.

I must admit that I feel a touch of pride, as the study was led by Professor John Neoptolemos at Liverpool University, which was where my late wife and I met when we were both students at the University.

But I also feel a touch of relief for others, who might get this awful cancer in the future, as now they may stand a better chance of survival, than did our youngest son; George, who survived just a few months after diagnosis.

I also raised a small sum of money for the research by visiting all 92 English and Welsh football clubs in alphabetical order by public transport. The main funding for the research included Cancer Research UK and I think some EU money!

The BBC story also says this.

The trial on 732 patients – in hospitals in the UK, Sweden, France and Germany – compared the standard chemotherapy drug gemcitabine against a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine.

I’ve looked up the two drugs mentioned and both are on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, which are the most important drugs needed in a basic health system.

An article in The Guardian is also illuminating. This is said.

The ESPAC trials, which began publishing findings in 2004, showed that chemotherapy with gemcitabine brings five-year survival up to 15-17%, doubling the rate of survival with surgery alone. The latest research, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, showed the two-drug combination nearly doubles the survival rate again to 29%.

It showed, said Neoptolemos, that chemotherapy does work in pancreatic cancer, even though most attention in cancer research is now focused on immunotherapy, and precision or targeted medicine.

But the trial would not have happened without funding from the charity CancerResearch UK (CRUK), because both drugs are old and off-patent, meaning they can be made by any generic drug manufacturer and are consequently cheap. Drug companies would not foot the bill for such a trial because the profits to be made are small.

“This is an academic-led presentation,” said Neoptolemos. “This shows the enormous value of CRUK. Without them, none of this would have happened. There is a lot of pressure [on doctors] to do drug company trials because you get £2,000 to £3,000 a patient. For something like this, you don’t get anything. It has been quite tough to do.”

So this is not some elite drug for the rich, famous and powerful, but one that might even be applied everywhere.

I must admit, that I’ve shed the odd tear this morning!

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 7 Comments