What is Pancreatic Cancer?
This disease develops when uncontrolled growth of cells starts in a part of the pancreas. This is situated behind the stomach and in back side of your abdomen just near gallbladder. This contains glands which is responsible for making hormones, like insulin and also enzymes. Symptoms may include jaundice or pain in the abdomen, but the unfortunate part is that these might not appear in the early stages and normally there are symptoms when the disease has advanced.
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In this article, We will read about the about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, as well as its diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer –
In most cases the symptoms of this disease do not appear until it reaches late stage. The symptoms can also be similar to the symptoms of other health disorders which makes the diagnosis more difficult and a challenging task.
Some of the common symptoms of pancreatic cancers are:
- back pain
- weight loss
- swelling of the gallbladder or swelling in the liver
- loss of appetite
- pain in the abdomen
- fatty or pale grey stool
- vomiting and nausea
- problem of indigestion
Incase the disease spreads, new symptoms may appear at some other locations in the body.
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Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer –
Diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is a challenging task especially when it is in the early stage. Sadly, in most of the Pancreatic cancer patients, this is diagnosed in a very late stage and the treatment for doctors also gets very difficult as the prognosis becomes huge concern for them. When you doctor suspects presence of pancreatic cancer, doctor will ask about symptoms, take family history and medical history. Doctor may recommend some of the tests in order to get the confirm diagnosis of pancreas cancer.
Investigations & Tests:
- blood tests including a LFT(Liver function tests)
- stool and urine tests
- imaging tests like ultrasound, X Ray or MRI scan
- doctor may take biopsy to confirm the diagnosis
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Treatments of Pancreatic Cancer
Options of treatment of pancreatic cancer will depend on below mentioned factors:
- the type of the disease
- stage of the cancer
- patient’s age and overall health
- patient’s personal choices
Aim of the treatment
- removal of the cancer
- delay the growth or stop the progress
- relief in symptoms
If the disease is localized when it is diagnosed for the first time, there is a high possibility that the it can be eliminated by partial or complete removal of the pancreas.
There are 3 main procedures for CA pancreas are:
In this surgery, Onco-Surgeon removes the head of the pancreas or whole pancreas at times, along with a part of the stomach, lymph nodes and duodenum. There are chances of complications that may occur include leaking, bleeding and stomach problems etc.
In this procedure, the Onco- surgeon removes a portion of the pancreas and spleen also at times.
As the spleen supports the immune system of an individual, so there can be a high risk of infection in the body after the removal of the spleen.
In this surgery, the Onco-surgeon removes the whole pancreas and the spleen, this procedures stops the production of the insulin in the body leading to diabetes.
In embolization, A Doctor injects into an artery a substance which stops the blood from going to the cancer cells and when the supply stops, these cells may die.
This is a drug treatment that aims to kill cancer cells and hold these cells from further spreading in the body. A Medical Oncologist may choose to prescribe it alone or with some other treatments.
A patient gets treatment in cycles of 4-6 weeks followed by a checkup to see the progress. There are side effects of chemotherapy like hair loss, vomiting, loss of appetite and nausea etc during the chemotherapy.
This is a newer way of treatment than chemotherapy. This stops the growth of cancer cells by aiming at the substances the cancer cell require to grow.
Unlike chemotherapy, the medications have a set target so that their impact on the body is less.
Radiation therapy aims to destruct cancer by putting high energy rays on cancerous cells. This can shrink the size of the tumor or remove the tumor.
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