What is pancreatic cancer? Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the tissues of the pancreas. Located in the abdomen behind the lower part of the stomach, the pancreas aids in digestion. It contains both exocrine glands (which produce enzymes that help the body digest food) and endocrine glands (which produce hormones, including insulin, that help control blood sugar levels in the body).
Pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose and once it is found it has usual spread to other places in the body pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs. It is seldom detected in its early stages. But for people with pancreatic cysts or a family history of pancreatic cancer, some screening steps might help detect a problem early. One sign of pancreatic cancer is diabetes, especially when it occurs with weight loss, jaundice or pain in the upper abdomen that spreads to the back.
Symptoms Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include: • Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss • Depression • New-onset diabetes • Blood clots Fatigue Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice) In 2017, the American Cancer Society predicts that about 53,670 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and about 43,090 people will die from pancreatic cancer.
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may not appear until it is “too late” or when total removal of the pancreas is not possible, but some of the symptoms include; loss of appetite, jaundice(yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), blood clots, or pain that begins in the upper abdomen and radiates to the back. Many of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, however, are similar to those of other diseases or cancers. Obviously, if one is experiencing unexplained weight loss or begins to develop jaundice, a doctor should be contacted immediately.
Pancreatic cancer forms once cells in your pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. The cells continue to multiply and grow uncontrollably and can eventually form a tumor. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma or also known as pancreatic exocrine cancer begins in the cells that line the Pancreatic Cancer ducts of the pancreas. This is the most common form of cancer. Islet cell cancer, pancreatic endocrine cancer, or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are the more rare types of this cancer, and they begin in the hormone producing or neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas.
As with any disease, there are always things that people can do to prevent or reduce the risk of getting the disease. With pancreatic cancer, the risk factors are being over weight, diabetes, family history of cancers or genetic mutations that may cause cancer, personal or family history of specifically pancreatic cancer, and smoking. There is a 2. 5 to 3. 6 time increased rate of a person who smokes or uses tobacco developing pancreatic cancer rather than someone who does not (Dr. Hidalgo 2010). The risk is also increased in those who are drink alcohol more often compared to those who drink less or not at all.
Now, doctors or researchers are not saying that if a person does, is or has any of these, that they are going to get pancreatic cancer, they are just at a more elevated risk rather than somebody who has a clean background or somebody who does not smoke, for example. Pancreatic Cancer the patient has a type of pancreatic cancer that presses into the small intestine, that is when digested food going to the intestines from the stomach is blocked. If a patient is experiencing severe or unusual symptoms, that person should contact their doctor immediately.
Doctors may use CT scans, ultrasound, MRI, or occasionally PET scan to diagnose pancreatic ancer. The doctors could also use an endoscopic ultrasound, which makes images of your pancreas. The EUS uses a tube that oasses through the esophagus and down into the stomach to gather the images. Also, a doctor may simply order a blood test from a patient. The doctor may be looking for tumour markers that may be shed by pancreatic cancer cells. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will determine the extent of the cancer by determining the stage. By determining the stage, the doctor can then determine the next step in determining the treatment. In each stage, there is something different occurring as the cancer progresses.
Stage 1 of pancreatic cancer is when the cancer is first identified and the cancerous portion of the pancreas can be removed during surgery. The cancer has spread to organs and tissues that are nearby in Stage II. The cancer may have also spread to the lymph nodes. Surgery at this point may still be possible. By Stage III, surgery still is a possibility but at the same time, it may not be a possibility. The cancer has spread past the pancreas to videal blood vessels and possibly to the lymph nodes. Once a cancer hits Stage IV, surgery is no longer an option.
This is the stage where the cancer has spread to nearby locations of the body including the lungs or the liver or organs that are adjacent to the pancreas such as the stomach and the spleen. There are, however, two groups of Stage IV pancreatic cancer; Stage IVA and Stage IVB. Stage IVA involves organs that are adjacent to the pancreas and nearby blood vessels, but the cancer is contained into a small Pancreatic Cancer 4 area. Even though it is confined to one area, that makes it more difficult for surgery. This stage of cancer is also known as locally advanced or localized. Stage IVB most commonly involves the liver.
In this stage, the cancer has spread to distant organs, such as the liver. This stage is also known as metastatic. The treatment for pancreatic cancer depends on where the cancer is found and what stage the cancer is discovered at, as well as the patient’s health and the personal preferences of the patient and the family. Overall, the goal is to eliminate or remove the cancer when it is first discovered. However, that may not always be possible, depending on the stage or the location. The next focus may to improve the patient’s quality of life or to prevent the cancer from spreading any further and causing more harm to the patient.
Treatment could include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, or a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. If the cancer is found too late, the doctor will often palliative care to make the patient as comfortable as possible. There are many different types of surgery for the different areas where the cancer can be located on the pancreas. The Whipple procedure is used when the cancer is located on the head of the pancreas. The Whipple procedure removes the gallbladder, the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, and part of the bile duct.
There are some cases in which part of the stomach and the lymph nodes that are nearby must also be removed. The surgeon will then reconnect the pancreas, the intestines, and the stomach together, allowing the patient to digest food. Surgery to completely remove the whole pancreas in known as total pancreatectomy. This option is only for those patients whose pancreas is completely compromised by the cancer. Once the Pancreatic Cancer 5 pancreas is removed, the patient will be put on a insulin and enzyme replacement that will be lifelong, due to the fact that the organ that used to do that job will now be out of the body.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The treatment will either be injected into the vein or distributed orally. Chemotherapy can also be delivered with radiation. When chemo is delivered, that normally means that the cancer has spread beyond the pancreas, but it is controlled to nearby organs and has not spread to distal parts of the body. In patients who have advanced cancer, chemo is used to control the growth of the cancer and increased the survival time. Radiation therapy is a type of treatment that uses high-energy beams, similar to those that X-Rays are made from, that are used to kill cancer cells.
Radiation may be delivered before or after surgery is performed. If the cancer cannot be removed by surgery, radiation may be combined with chemo. The radiation is delivered by a machine that rotates around the patient, directing the radiation at specific spots of the body. Pancreatic cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Once it is spotted, often times it is too late to do anything about it. Typically, more men than women are diagnosed with this cancer, however, more women die from this cancer. This cancer is normally diagnosed in older patients, but it is not picky and will attack anybody of any age.