The pancreas is a 6-inch long organ located in the abdomen, near the gallbladder. It aids in digestion by secreting enzymes and regulates blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in a part of the pancreas. Tumors start to develop and interfere with the way the pancreas functions. It often does not show symptoms until the later stage which makes it difficult to manage.
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer
The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet known. Certain gene mutations can be responsible for the same. But there are some risk factors that can increase the chances of developing pancreatic cancer, which are:
- Age – Most cases of pancreatic cancers are found in people over 65 years of age.
- Gender – Men are more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than women
- Tobacco use
- Excessive exposure to chemicals found in dry cleaning and metal industries
- Liver Cirrhosis
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
- Pain in the abdomen
- Liver swelling
- Blood clots in lungs or legs
- Unexplained weight loss
Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid alcohol
- Limit exposure to chemicals
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
Diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer
- Ultrasound – Endoscopic Ultrasound uses a device to make images of your pancreas from inside the abdomen.
- Biopsy – It is a procedure to remove a sample of tissue for examination in a lab under a microscope.
- Blood tests – The doctor may test your blood and look for specific proteins shed by pancreatic cancer cells.
- Imaging tests – CT Scans, MRIs, PET Scans help doctors to study the pancreas and make a deeper diagnosis
Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer
- Surgery – The surgeon may recommend surgery based on the location and size of the tumors. In some cases, the removal of the pancreas may be recommended by the surgeons.
- Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division. It can be done either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy in combination with radiation called Chemoradiation might be used to treat cancer that hasn’t spread beyond the pancreas.
- Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth.
- Targeted Therapy – This treatment uses drugs that are designed specifically to target the tumor cells. These therapies usually cause less harm to normal and healthy cells than chemotherapy and radiation therapy.