Pancreatic Cancer, the Silent Disease

A MedicineNet doctor-editor's perspective on his own struggle with pancreatic cancer

Medical Author: Dennis Lee, MD
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

The diagnosis

I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on May 25 of this year. On a routine yearly blood test, I was found to have slightly elevated blood levels of liver enzymes (my alkaline phosphatase, ALT, and AST were mildly elevated). Since I had no symptoms of abdominal pain or weight loss, both my doctor and I felt quite confident that these liver abnormalities were merely due to the statin that I was taking to lower cholesterol. For the sake of completeness, my doctor ordered a liver ultrasound, which showed multiple liver tumors. A subsequent CAT scan of the abdomen done that same afternoon showed an orange-sized mass in the tail of my pancreas with multiple metastases (spread of tumor) in the liver. A liver biopsy confirmed that it was pancreatic cancer.

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