About Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
This information is intended for general information only and should not be considered as medical advice on the part of Health-Tourism.com. Any decision on medical treatments, after-care or recovery should be done solely upon proper consultation and advice of a qualified physician.
What is pancreatic cancer?
This is a type of cancer that occurs in the pancreas. The pancreas is a glandular organ in the digestive system that is located behind the stomach. The pancreas produces hormones and digestive enzymes.
Types of pancreatic cancer
Exocrine - occurs in the part of the pancreas that produces digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes help to break down food so that it can be absorbed into the body.
Endocrine - occurs in the part of the pancreas that produces hormones. Hormones such as insulin help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Who is at risk?
- A family history of cancer
- People above the age of 40
- A history of other health conditions
Signs and symptoms
Pancreatic cancer is not easy to notice in the early stages because it is mostly asymptomatic.
- Pain in the stomach area and back
- Fever and chills
- Blood clots that form in a vein
- Unexplainable loss of weight
Your doctor will carry out a physical exam and check for lumps in the stomach area. He/she will also check for jaundice. If your doctor suspects pancreatic cancer more tests may be ordered, which will be done by a specialist. These include:
Imaging tests: Medical imaging techniques such as CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be ordered by your doctor to confirm the diagnosis of suspected cancer of the pancreas. These tests will help your doctor to see your internal organs including your pancreas. The imaging tests will help the doctors to decide whether to surgically remove the tumor.
Use of a scope to create ultrasound pictures: EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) makes images of your pancreas by using an ultrasound device. The device is passed through an endoscope-a thin flexible tube –down your esophagus and into your stomach so as to obtain the images. A biopsy may also be done during an endoscopic ultrasound.
Use of scope to inject dye into the pancreatic ducts: This test uses a dye to highlight the bile ducts in your pancreas in a process called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Then an endoscope is passed through your esophagus into your stomach and then into the upper part of the small intestine. A dye is then injected through a catheter and then X-rays of the ducts are taken. A biopsy may also be done during an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small sample of tissue for further examination under a microscope. It can be done by inserting a needle through your skin and into your pancreas or through endoscopic ultrasound.
Because the symptoms of pancreatic cancer are usually not noticeable in the early stages, it is very difficult to treat. As such treatment will depend on how advanced the cancer is. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy are the main treatments. They may be done individually or may be combined. If the cancer is too advanced to be cured, pain management medications and medications to improve digestion are sometimes needed.
Pancreatic cancer has a high mortality rate because it is not easily identifiable and is often diagnosed in its later stages when not much can be done for the patient.
Learn more about Pancreatic Cancer