Aaudrey_main_photo.jpgudrey Hepburn

Born on May 4th, 1929, British star Audrey Hepburn lived to be one of the most established actresses of not only her time, but throughout history. After practicing ballet for most of her teenage life, she also worked as a photographer's model. Soon after, she decided to pursue an acting career. She starred in many roles, many of which are classics today. They include: Gigi (a broadway play), Roman Holiday, Sabrina, The Nun Story, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade, My Fair Lady, and Wait Until Dark. With these films under her belt, she managed to win a Tony, Oscar, Grammy, and Emmy award, being one of the few people in history to have ever won all four! In November of 1992, Hepburn experienced stomach pains which led to her diagnosis of Appendiceal cancer, or cancer of the appendix. It turned out that her cancer was one of the rarest forms of appendiceal cancer, Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, or PMP. She died at age 63, a short three months after her diagnosis on January 20, 1993. Although there is not an organization dedicated solely to cancer on her behalf, Hepburn devoted much of her time and fortune to other organizations such as UNICEF and The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.

Article written the day after Hepburn's death in 1993

Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP):

The presence of acellular mucin (jelatinous material) within the abdominal cavity; the rarest form of appendiceal cancer. It is also commonly linked to colorectal cancer.

  1. Found in:
    1. Appendiceal carcinomas
    2. Disseminated Peritoneal Adenomucinosis (DPAM)
    3. Peritoneal Carcinomasappendix3.jpg
    4. Several mucinous tumors
  2. Symptoms:
    1. Pain in the lower right quadrant
    2. Bloating
    3. Abdominal distention
    4. Reflux
    5. Loss of appetite
    6. Digestive distress
    7. Appendicitis
    8. Appearance of a hernia
    9. Protruding belly button
    10. Altered bowel function
    11. Blood in stool
    12. Flushing or hot flashes
  3. Epidemiology
    1. United States found that 0.12 cases of 1,000,000 showed up with malignant cells.
    2. Carcinoid is found in 1 of 300 appendectomies
    3. More common in females
    4. Relapse is common
    5. Mortality rates range from 0% to 14%
    6. Recovery after de-bulking surgery between 16 and 21 days
  4. Treatments
    1. Surgery --> Specialized surgeons must carefully remove as much of the tumor as possible; this is called debulking. Because PMP is mucin related, mucus fills the bottom of the entire abdominal cavity and can often make it necessary to remove organs adjacent to the appendix if it appears that the tumor may spread to them. Some common organs to remove include: ovaries, fallopian tubes, parts of the large intestine, gallbladder, spleen, and portions of the small intestine. This surgery requires long recovery time.
    2. Chemotherapy --> A chemical is transferred directly into the abdominal cavity to kill the remaining cancerous cells. This treatment is typically given on a schedule for weeks or months at a time. Unfortunately, there are nasty side effects to this treatment, including: hair loss, nausea, vomiting, low blood counts, poor appetite, and fatigue.
  5. Is there hope for the future of PMP?
    1. In 2004, APCAN (Appendiceal Cancer Advocacy Network) was formed to fund research for appendiceal cancer. The link for this website is http://www.apcan.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=1.
    2. In 2008, PMPRF (PMP Research Foundation) was formed. It's mission is to fund research for treatments and ultimately cure the rare disease. To date, they have granted over $300,000 to PMP research to multiple organizations. The link for this website is http://www.pmpcure.org/.
    3. PMP Pals Network is an informational and support group for patients suffering from PMP. The link for this website is http://www.pmppals.org/.
    4. This trial, as well as other clinical trials can be found at the National Cancer Institute's website: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/search/view?cdrid=644620&version=HealthProfessional&protoco
      Audrey in her older years advocating her support for UNICEF
  6. Audrey-Specific PMP
    1. Risk Factors
      1. There are no known causes of appendix cancer, however Audrey grew up in a German-occupied town during World War II where she could have experienced exposure to toxic gases or other war materials that may have threatened her health.
    2. Her Treatment
      1. After going through diagnostic surgery to figure out what was causing her severe abdominal pain, doctors came to the conclusion that cancer had started in the appendix and metastasized to form a coating over her small intestine. She then was put through a series of chemotherapy treatments, which her body responded horribly to and produced little results. After chemo, doctors attempted to surgically remove the cancer, but then pronounced that the cancer had spread too far to be removed. This unsuccessful surgery took place on December 1, 1992. Audrey died on January 20, 1993 in her sleep.
    3. Her Contributions
      1. UNICEF --> Feeling blessed that she had faired so well in her German-occupied town as a child, Hepburn devoted most of her life to reciprocating that good-fortune and passing it on to impoverished children. She made numerous trips to third world countries in Africa to do good deeds such as giving immunizations, providing clean drinking water, offering food to children, and advocating for simple human rights.
      2. Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund --> In correspondence with her work for UNICEF, the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund was created in 1994 by her two sons, Sean and Luca. Their main goal was to continue the work of their mother and bring human rights to children in need.