What is Pancreatic Cancer?

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

What is Pancreatic Cancer? location in stomach.

ex_magician’s photo

The pancreas can be found in front of the spine and behind the stomach. It is a gland that produces the hormones and digestive fluids needed to keep blood sugar levels regulated. The cells that produce the digestive fluids are called exocrine and the ones that produce the hormones are called endocrine cells. Most cases of pancreatic cancer begin with the exocrine cells. You could be at risk for pancreatic cancer if you smoke, have had diabetes for a long period of time, and have a history of this disease in your family.

Signs of Pancreatic Cancer

If you have any of the following symptoms make sure to have them checked out with your physician.

  • Jaundice, which is when your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue and general weakness
  • Pain in your upper back or the middle of your abdomen

Treatment Options

Diagnosing pancreatic cancer can be accomplished a number of ways. The first step is always a general exam by your primary care doctor. After going through your medical history a CT scan may be performed. CT stands for computed tomography, which is a process that uses X-rays to produce detailed pictures of specific areas inside your body. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, may also be implemented to get a better view of the pancreas. Endoscopic ultrasound is another useful diagnostic tool in diagnosing this type of cancer. The flexible lighted tube has a camera attached which provides a high quality image of the gland or organ you are interested in. A procedure to check out the liver is another option and the actual removal of the tissue, or a biopsy, will provide information that will be used in the diagnostic process. The following are options for treatment depending on the level that the cancer has reached.

  • Surgery may or may not be an option for patients with pancreatic cancer. In the beginning stages the pancreas may be able to be removed but if it has already spread that is not an option.
  • Chemotherapy drugs can help to shrink the cancer cells to help make surgery possible.
  • Radiation may be used to prevent a recurrence or the development of more cancer cells.
  • The Whipple procedure seems to have the best rate of success with pancreatic cancer. Only about 20% of patients with Pancreatic cancer are eligible for this procedure but it should be considered.

There may be alternative treatment ways to get relief from Pancreatic cancer. Hopefully you have a better understanding about what Pancreatic cancer is.