Pancreas cancer occurs when malignant cells develop in any part of the Pancreas. This may affect how the pancreas works, including the functioning of the exocrine or endocrine glands. Pancreatic cancer can occur in any part of the pancreas, but about 70% of pancreatic cancers are located in the head of the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas (an organ in your abdomen that lies behind the lower part of your stomach). Your pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that help manage your blood sugar.
Exocrine tumors make up more than 95% of pancreatic cancers. The most common type, an adenocarcinoma, starts in the cells lining the pancreatic duct. Also, it can hardly be detected until a later stage. this goes to show the level of discrepancies and urgency with which it should be treated as.
Furthermore, about 5% of pancreatic cancers are pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). These start in the endocrine cells. Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in both men and women in Australia, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers.
It is estimated that 4261 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed in Australia in 2021. In addition, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is approximately 11%.
Causes of Pancreas cancer
Although not all causes can be accounted for in this article, here are a few of the popularly known causes of Pancreas cancer
- smoking tobacco
- age – most cases occur in adults over the age of 60
- diabetes, particularly newly diagnosed diabetes
- a family history of pancreatic, ovarian, or colon cancer
- chronic pancreatitis
- excessive alcohol consumption
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Symptoms of Pancreas Cancer
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Light-colored stools
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
- Blood clots
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Staging (imaging and tissue sampling tests) is used to determine the stage of the cancer.
The staging system used for pancreatic cancer is the TNM system, which describes the stage of the cancer from stage I to stage IV.
Types of treatment
Treatment for pancreatic cancer may include surgery, endoscopic treatment, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments.
For early disease, surgery is the most common treatment – usually the Whipple operation, which is the removal of part of the pancreas, the first part of the small bowel (duodenum), part of the stomach and the gall bladder, and part of the bile duct.
For advanced pancreatic cancer, surgery may not be possible. Treatment is often to relieve symptoms such as pain and digestive problems.
In some cases of pancreatic cancer, your medical team may talk to you about palliative care. Palliative care aims to improve your quality of life by alleviating symptoms of cancer without aiming to cure it.
As well as slowing the spread of pancreatic cancer, palliative treatment can relieve pain and help manage other symptoms. Treatment may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies.
In conclusion, pancreas cancer be prevented by avoiding smoking and maintaining a healthy diet. It can be cured at its early stage like other type of cancers