Posts Tagged ‘patrick swayze’

Pancreatic Cancer and Scuba Diving

September 15th, 2009 Comments off

Information about Pancreatic Cancer and Scuba Diving

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. Sadly, 42,470 people are diagnosed each year in the United States, resulting in 35,240 individuals falling victim to the disease each year.

In light of Patrick Swayze‘s recent death from pancreatic cancer, Maldives Dive Travel investigates the signs and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention of pancreatic cancer and how it affects your scuba diving:

Pancreatic Cancer Signs and Symptomspancreatic cancer and scuba diving 300x215 Pancreatic Cancer and Scuba Diving

Pancreatic Cancer is commonly referred to as a “silent killer” since symptoms are often undetctable during the disease’s early states. Furthermore, once the symptoms of pancreatic cancer manifest themselves, they are generally non-specfici and varied, causing individuals to attribute them to other causes. Therefore, the majority of pancreatic cancer cases are detected while the disease is in an advanced stage.

Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen that typically radiates to the back (seen in carcinoma of the body or tail of the pancreas)
  • Loss of appetite and/or nausea and vomiting
  • Significant weight loss
  • Painless jaundice (yellow skin/eyes, dark urine)
  • Trousseau sign, in which blood clots form spontaneously in the portal blood vessels, the deep veins of the extremities, or the superficial veins anywhere on the body, is sometimes associated with pancreatic cancer.
  • Diabetes mellitus, or elevated blood sugar levels. Many patients with pancreatic cancer develop diabetes months to even years before they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, suggesting that new onset diabetes in an elderly individual may be an early warning sign of pancreatic cancer.
  • Clinical depression has been reported in association with pancreatic cancer, sometimes presenting before the cancer is diagnosed. However, the mechanism for this association is not known. (Source: Wikipedia)

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • Age (particularly over 60)
  • Male gender
  • African-American ethnicity
  • Smoking. Cigarette smoking has a risk ratio of 1.74 with regard to pancreatic cancer; a decade of non-smoking after heavy smoking is associated with a risk ratio of 1.2
  • Diets low in vegetables and fruits
  • Diets high in red meat
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes mellitus is both risk factor for pancreatic cancer, and, as noted earlier, new onset diabetes can be an early sign of the disease.
  • Chronic pancreatitis has been linked, but is not known to be causal. The risk of pancreatic cancer in individuals with familial pancreatitis is particularly high.
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Family history, 5–10% of pancreatic cancer patients have a family history of pancreatic cancer. The genes responsible for most of this clustering in families have yet to be identified. Pancreatic cancer has been associated with the following syndromes; autosomal recessive ataxia-telangiectasia and autosomal dominantly inherited mutations in the BRCA2 gene and PALB2 gene, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome due to mutations in the STK11 tumor suppressor gene, hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (Lynch syndrome), familial adenomatous polyposis, and the familial atypical multiple mole melanoma-pancreatic cancer syndrome (FAMMM-PC) due to mutations in the CDKN2A tumor suppressor gene.
  • Gingivitis or periodontal disease (Source: Wikipedia)


It is disputed as to whether alcohol consumption is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Approximately 7 out of 10 cases of chronic pancreatitis result from long term heavy drinking, and chronic pancreatitis is a known risk factor for pancreas cancer. However, chronic pancreatitis that is caused by alcohol doesn’t increase risk as much as other types of chronic pancreatitis.  Therefore, if a link exists, it may be only very slight. (Source: Cancer Research UK)

Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

There are several different tests that can be used to diagnose pancreatic cancer:


This method uses high-frequency sound waves that are above the human audible range. An instrument sends sound waves into the patient’s abdomen, and the echoes that the sound waves produce as they bounce off internal organs creates a picture called a sonogram. Healthy tissues and tumors produce different echoes.

CT scanning (Computed Tomography)

This method of testing involves the use of an x-ray machine which is linked to a computer. The patient lies on a bed that passes through a hole, and the machine moves along the patient’s body, simultaneously taking multiple x-rays. The computer then pieces the x-rays together to produce detailed pictures.

ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancretography)

A method for taking x-rays of the common bile duct and the pancreatic ducts. The doctor passes a long, flexible tube called an endoscope down the throat, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. The doctor then injects dye into the ducts and takes x-rays.

EUS (Endoscopic Ultrasound)

This is a test that combines ultrasound(sound waves) with an endoscope. The doctor places the tube (endoscope) into the stomach and the ultrasound machine (which is on the endoscope) is used to direct sound waves to the pancreas. This test is especially useful for detecting small tumors of the pancreas.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

This method of testing involves the use of an x-ray machine which is linked to a computer. The patient lies on a bed that passes through a hole, and the machine moves along the patient’s body, simultaneously taking multiple x-rays. The computer then pieces the x-rays together to produce detailed pictures.

PTC (Cholangiogram, Percutaneous Transhepatic)

A thin needle is put into the liver through the skin on the right side of the abdomen. Dye is injected in to the bile ducts in the liver so that blockages in the ducts can be seen on x-rays.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Conventional Pancreatic Cancer Treatments

Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

  • Whipple Procedure
  • Palliative Procedures

Pancreatic Cancer Radiation Therapy

  • 3D Conformal Radiation
  • External Beam Radiation
  • IMRT
  • TomoTherapy®
  • TheraSphere®
  • TrilogyTM

Pancreatic Cancer Chemotherapy

  • Metronomic Chemotherapy
  • Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy
  • Chemoembolization

Pancreatic Cancer Biotherapy/Immunotherapy

Supportive Pancreatic Cancer Therapies

  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Naturopathic Medicine
  • Pain Management
  • Mind-Body Medicine
  • Oncology Rehabilitation
  • Spiritual Support
  • Image Enhancement

Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis

While pancreatic cancer survival rates have been improving from decade to decade, the disease is still considered largely incurable.

Survival Rates

According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 4%. These low survival rates are attributable to the fact that fewer than 10% of patients’ tumors are confined to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the malignancy has already progressed to the point where surgical removal is impossible.

In those cases where resection can be performed, the average survival rate is 18 to 20 months. The overall five-year survival rate is about 10%, although this can rise as high as 20% to 25% if the tumor is removed completely and when cancer has not spread to lymph nodes.

Tumor Size

Tumor size does appear to impact survival rates. The larger the tumor, the less likely it is to be cured by resection.


In patients where a cure is not possible, progression of the disease may be accompanied by progressive weakness, weight loss, and pain.

Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

Sadly, currently no medically backed methods exist for preventing pancreatic cancer. The best defence is to avoid the risk factors.

Pancreatic Cancer and Scuba Diving

There is no steadfast rule as to when, and even if, cancer patients can safely return to scuba diving. Cancer treatments, symptoms, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and medication all possess their own unique set of risks, which can greatly alter a person’s normal bodily functions.

Doctors recommend that patients should wait until they’re done with all therapy and fully recuperated before scuba diving. Chemo and radiation therapy can take a huge toll on energy levels and stamina, often taking a full year before fully recovering your previous fitness level.

Certain chemotherapy drugs can increase the risk for cardiac and pulmonary toxicity should you need hyperbaric oxygen therapy while taking them, and chemotherapy suppresses the body’s immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infection. The ocean is home to an array of pathogens, so one’s immune system should be in full force prior taking the plunge.

Furthermore, radiation treatment and certain chemotherapy drugs can also cause pulmonary fibrosis, an inflammation of the lungs that causes scarring and stiffening of the lung tissue. So, once you’re fully healed, you should have a lung assessment to be sure that you don’t have residual damage that may predispose you to lung injuries. Pulmonary fibrosis can also cause shortness of breath and pulmonary hypertension. What’s more, it may develop months after completing chemo and radiation therapy, which is why it’s important to give yourself plenty of time before scuba diving once again.

Please Note: The information contained in this post should not be interpreted as medical or health advice. The Maldives Dive Travel content should not be used to diagnose, treat or cure any medical or health condition nor should it be interpreted as creating any kind of doctor-patient or health/medical advisor relationship. You should NOT rely uypon the medical, health, dietary, nutritional or other professional information or opinions provided and You should always speak to Your personal health care provider before beginning, changing or stopping any medication or any treatment for a health problem. You are solely responsible for any decisions, omissions or actions You take based on choosing to seek or not to seek professional medical care, or choosing or not choosing specific treatments. Neither Maldives Dive Travel, its parent, its affiliates, nor any of their respective agents, employees, information providers or content providers shall have any liability for your medical, health, dietary or nutritional decisions based upon, or the results obtained from, the Maldives Dive Travel content.

Patrick Swayze passes away at 57

September 15th, 2009 Comments off

Beloved actor Patrick Swayze dies at age 57

Patrick Swayze, the talented actor well known for his pivotal roles in “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” passed away Monday, at the age of 57, after his long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Quote from Annett Wolf, Patrick Swayze’s Publicist

A statement releaesed Monday evening by Annett Wolf,  Patrick Swayze‘s publicist,said, “Patrick Swayze passed away peacefully today with family at his side after facing the challenges of his illness for the last 20 months.” Swayze died in Los Angeles, Wolf said.

Patrick Swayze’s Battle with Pancreatic Cancer

Patrick Swayze fans were saddened to learn in March 2008 that Swayze was suffering from a particularly deadly form of pancreatic cancer. Despite the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze continued working in show business, compiling a memoir with his wife and shooting “The Beast,” an A&E drama series for which Patrick Swayze had already made the pilot.

Patrick Swazye’s Experience with Pancreatic Cancer while Filming “The Beast”

Swayze said he preferred not to use painkilling drugs while making “The Beast” because they would have taken the edge off his performance. The show drew a respectable 1.3 million viewers when the 13 episodes ran in 2009, but A&E said it had reluctantly decided not to renew it for a second season.

When Patrick Swayze first went public with the illness, some reports gave him only weeks to live, but his doctor said his situation was “considerably more optimistic” than that. Swayze acknowledged that time might be running out given the grim nature of the disease.

“I’d say five years is pretty wishful thinking,” Swayze told ABC’s Barbara Walters in early 2009. “Two years seems likely if you’re going to believe statistics. I want to last until they find a cure, which means I’d better get a fire under it.”

C. Thomas Howell, who co-starred with Swayze in “The Outsiders,” “Grandview U.S.A.” and “Red Dawn”, said: “I have always had a special place in my heart for Patrick. While I was fortunate enough to work with him in three films, it was our passion for horses that forged a friendship between us that I treasure to this day. Not only did we lose a fine actor today, I lost my older `Outsiders’ brother.”

Other celebrities used Twitter to express condolences, and “Dirty Dancing” was the top trending topic for a while Monday night, trailed by several other Swayze films.

Ashton Kutcher — whose wife, Demi Moore, co-starred with Swayze in “Ghost” — wrote: “RIP P Swayze.” Kutcher also linked to a YouTube clip of the actor poking fun at himself in a classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch, in which he played a wannabe Chippendales dancer alongside the corpulent — and frighteningly shirtless — Chris Farley.

And Larry King wrote: “Patrick Swayze was a wonderful actor & a terrific guy. He put his heart in everything. He was an extraordinary fighter in his battle w Cancer.” King added that he’d do a tribute to Swayze on his CNN program Tuesday night.

Patick Swayze’s Professional Career

Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing

A three-time Golden Globe nominee, Patrick Swayze became a star with his performance as the misunderstood bad-boy Johnny Castle in “Dirty Dancing.” As the son of a choreographer who began his career in musical theater, Patrick Swayze seemed a natural to play the role.

A coming-of-age romance starring Jennifer Grey as an idealistic young woman on vacation with her family and Patrick Swayze as the Catskills resort’s sexy (and much older) dance instructor, the film made great use of both his grace on his feet and his muscular physique.

It became an international phenomenon in the summer of 1987, spawning albums, an Oscar-winning hit song in “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,” stage productions and a sequel, 2004’s “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” in which he made a cameo.

Patrick Swayze performed and co-wrote a song on the soundtrack, the ballad “She’s Like the Wind,” inspired by his wife, Lisa Niemi. The film also gave him the chance to utter the now-classic line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

Patrick Swayze in Road House

Patrick Swayze followed that up with the 1989 action flick “Road House,” in which he played a bouncer at a rowdy bar. But it was his performance in 1990’s “Ghost” that showed his vulnerable, sensitive side. He starred as a murdered man trying to communicate with his fiancee (Moore) — with great frustration and longing — through a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg.

Patrick Swayze said at the time that he fought for the role of Sam Wheat (director Jerry Zucker wanted Kevin Kline) but once he went in for an audition and read six scenes, he got it.

Why did he want the part so badly? “It made me cry four or five times,” he said of Bruce Joel Rubin’s Oscar-winning script in an AP interview.

Patrick Swayze in Ghost

“Ghost” provided yet another indelible musical moment: Swayze and Moore sensually molding pottery together to the strains of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.” It also earned a best-picture nomination and a supporting-actress Oscar for Goldberg, who said she wouldn’t have won if it weren’t for Swayze.

“When I won my Academy Award, the only person I really thanked was Patrick,” Goldberg said in March 2008 on the ABC daytime talk show “The View.”

Swayze himself earned three Golden Globe nominations, for “Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost” and 1995’s “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” which further allowed him to toy with his masculine image. The role called for him to play a drag queen on a cross-country road trip alongside Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo.

His heartthrob status almost kept him from being considered for the role of Vida Boheme.

“I couldn’t get seen on it because everyone viewed me as terminally heterosexually masculine-macho,” he told the AP then. But he transformed himself so completely that when his screen test was sent to Steven Spielberg, whose Amblin pictures produced “To Wong Foo,” Spielberg didn’t recognize him.

Among his earlier films, Swayze was part of the star-studded lineup of up-and-comers in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s novel “The Outsiders,” alongside Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane.

Other ’80s films included “Red Dawn,” “Grandview U.S.A.” (for which he also provided choreography) and “Youngblood,” once more with Lowe, as Canadian hockey teammates.

In the ’90s, Patrick Swayze made such eclectic films as “Point Break” (1991), in which he played the leader of a band of bank-robbing surfers, and the family Western “Tall Tale” (1995), in which he starred as Pecos Bill. Patrick Swayze appeared on the cover of People magazine as its “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1991, but his career tapered off toward the end of the 1990s, when he also had stay in rehab for alcohol abuse. In 2001, Patrick Swayze appeared in the cult favorite “Donnie Darko,” and in 2003 he returned to the New York stage with “Chicago”; 2006 found him in the musical “Guys and Dolls” in London.

Patrick Swayze’s Background

Swayze was born in 1952 in Houston, the son of Jesse Swayze and choreographer Patsy Swayze, whose films include “Urban Cowboy.”

He played football but also was drawn to dance and theater, performing with the Feld, Joffrey and Harkness Ballets and appearing on Broadway as Danny Zuko in “Grease.” But he turned to acting in 1978 after a series of injuries.

Within a couple years of moving to Los Angeles, he made his debut in the roller-disco movie “Skatetown, U.S.A.” The eclectic cast included Scott Baio, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormack and Billy Barty.

Patrick Swayze “Off-Screen”

Off-screen, Patrick Swayze was an avid conservationist who was moved by his time in Africa to shine a light on “man’s greed and absolute unwillingness to operate according to Mother Nature’s laws,” he told the AP in 2004.

Swayze was married since 1975 to Niemi, a fellow dancer who took lessons with his mother; they met when he was 19 and she was 15. A licensed pilot, Niemi would fly her husband from Los Angeles to Northern California for treatment at Stanford University Medical Center.