What Is Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is the abnormal growth of cells and tissues in the pancreas – an organ located in the abdomen which makes enzymes for digestion and controls blood sugar levels. The growth can be both malignant and benign. In case the tumor is malignant, it can be cancerous and fatal.
There are majorly two types of pancreatic cancer depending on the type of cells they grow from:
- Exocrine Tumors
- Endocrine Tumors
Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms
In many cases, the patients do not experience any pancreatic cancer symptoms until they reach advanced stages. In the beginning, the signs and symptoms may be visible but not severe. Some of them include:
- Unintended weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Blood clots
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in stool
Who Is At Risk?
The risk factors associated with pancreatic cancers can vary from genetics to lifestyle. Common pancreatic cancer risk factors are as follows:
- Family history of pancreatic cancer
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Smoking and drinking
- Older age since most people are diagnosed with the condition after age 65
- Rare inherited conditions such as Lynch syndrome, hereditary pancreatitis and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS)
- Hepatitis B Infection
- Exposure to chemicals like pesticides and benzene
Pancreatic Cancer Causes
Finding pancreatic cancer causes is still not possible. This type of cancer occurs when the cells grow abnormally within the pancreas and form tumors. The main causes behind this development are not known. The doctors usually consider the risk factors to be strongly connected to the conditions.
As per some research, most cases happen due to changes or mutations in the DNA. If left untreated, pancreatic cancer can spread to other organs and lead to serious complications.
How Is Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosed?
If you experience any of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, seek medical diagnosis to ensure you get proper and timely treatment. Some of the steps you can expect during pancreatic cancer diagnosis are as follows:
- Physical Exam: The doctors will check for symptoms by examining your body. You and your family’s medical history will also be required to check your risk factors.
- Lab Tests: You may be asked for several tests such as blood tests, urine tests, or stool tests.
- Imaging Tests: The doctors can also recommend possible tests such as Computed Tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan among others.
- Biopsy: The doctors may collect the small sample of the affected tissue through special procedures for further analysis of the condition.
How Is Pancreatic Cancer Treated?
Pancreatic cancer treatment depends on the stage and location of the tumor. In addition, the health and age of the patient are also important factors that doctors consider when planning the treatment.
Here are some of the often-used methods to treat the condition:
- Surgery: This option is used when it is possible to eliminate the tumor by removing the parts, or in some cases, the whole pancreas. Surgery is not suitable for the advanced stage.
- Chemotherapy: The doctors use drugs to kill the cancer cells to prevent further growth. Chemotherapy is usually combined with other cancer treatments as well.
- Radiation Therapy: In case when the cancer cells spread to other parts, the doctors can opt for radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells using high-energy beams.
- Targeted Therapy: In this treatment, specific drugs are used to target cancer cells to destroy them.
Treatment of pancreatic cancer is possible if it is detected early. In most of the cases, the doctors combine one or two treatment methods for effective pancreatic cancer cure.
In case you are searching for a pancreatic cancer doctor, Care.Fit is the right place for you. We have a dedicated panel of experienced oncologists who offer specialized consultation for cancer treatments. You can visit our website or app to book an online appointment and get a consultation from top doctors.
How Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Prevented?
Prevention of pancreatic cancer can be done knowing your risk factors and avoiding them. Some steps you can take:
- Avoid smoking and if you do, try to quit as soon as possible.
- Maintain healthy body weight.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet to reduce your risk of cancer.
- Talk to a doctor if your family has a history of cancer and know more about how you can prevent pancreatic cancer.