Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Patrick Swayze Has Pancreatic Cancer

An Expert Explains the Risk Factors and Treatments for Pancreatic Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 6, 2008 -- Patrick Swayze, who starred in such blockbuster films as Dirty Dancing and Ghost, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, according to media reports. While little has been reported about the 55-year-old actor's condition, the news casts a spotlight on this often fatal form of cancer.

The pancreas is a long, flat gland that lies in the abdomen behind the stomach and produces both enzymes that aid digestion and certain hormones that help maintain the proper level of sugar in the blood.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 37,680 Americans (18,770 men and 18,910 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. About 34,290 Americans (17,500 men and 16,790 women) will die of pancreatic cancer in 2008, making it the fourth deadliest cancer.

In a statement published in People magazine, Swayze's doctor, George Fisher, MD, an oncologist at Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, Calif., said, "Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far. All of the reports stating the time frame of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic."

Swayze's diagnosis was initially reported by the National Enquirer and New York Post, which both suggested that the cancer is more severe.

To find out more about this form of cancer, WebMD spoke to Gagandeep Singh, MD, director of hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and a spokesman for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan), based in El Segundo, Calif.

Is Patrick Swayze a poster child for this disease in any way?

"No. It is almost equal in its incidence in men and women, so sex is not a factor. It occurs most often in patients about the age of 60 through 65, so at age 55, Patrick Swayze is young. The youngest patient I have ever treated was 21 and the oldest was 86, so there is a spectrum."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

human pancreas
Do you know what they are?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
Patrick Swayzes Widow Healing From Loss
Pets Improve Your Health
Resolved To Quit Smoking