Lee Ying-yuan lost his battle to ampullary cancer on Nov. 11. Doctors say this type of cancer doesn't present with symptoms in the early stages, therefore is highly deadly.
Ampullary cancer took the life of Lee Ying-yuan on Nov. 11. This rare type of cancer affects 0.3 to 0.46 out of every 100,000 people. By the time symptoms like jaundice and noticeable weight loss occur, the cancer has likely already obstructed the bile and pancreatic ducts. This type of cancer is very difficult to operate on.
Hsu Wen-lu, Chief of General Surgery, Taiwan Adventist Hospital: “Because of their small size, tumors often escape notice on sonograms and scans. Unless you have symptoms and seek medical attention for them, (this form of cancer is not easily discovered). By the time you have symptoms, it may be inoperable).”
The ampulla of Vater is the place in the small intestine where the pancreatic and bile ducts and duodenum intersect. According to research, 70 percent of ampullary cancer cases start with a benign tumor that turns cancerous. If the cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is just 25 to 40 percent.
Lai Gi-ming, Executive Director, Formosa Cancer Foundation: “Many patients are only diagnosed because of frequent stomach pain and unexplained weight loss. By that time, the cancer has usually already metastasized to, first, the lymph nodes and second, the liver. The prognosis is not good at this point.”
Doctors say the risk factors for this form of cancer are unknown, making it difficult to prevent. However, people that experience unexplained stomach pain and those with a family history of glandular cysts should get annual endoscopies along with exercising and eating a healthy diet.