The pancreas is a vital abdominal organ responsible for production of digestive juices and hormones for the control of blood sugar. A tumour which arises in this organ is very dangerous and is most of the time cancerous.
What is Pancreatic Cancer?
Cancer is a special type of disease characterized by abnormal cells that don’t follow the normal checks and balances system prevailing in the body to control the growth of the new cells in the body. These abnormal cells once formed continue multiplying and cause interference with the normal functioning of the gland.
When cancer cells of the tumor grow and invade other organs destroying healthy tissues, it is said that metastasis has begun resulting a serious stage that is difficult to treat. Depending on the area where the cancer cells affect either exocrine or endocrine, classification of pancreatic cancer is made as under:
Cancer affecting exocrine pancreatic functions is:
Adenocarcinomas — it is typically found in the gland cells of the duct of the pancreas.
Cancer affecting endocrine pancreatic functions is:
- Neuroendocrine or islet cell tumors — it affects the endocrine function of the pancreas.
What are the causes of Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer forms when abnormal cells in your pancreas develop mutations in their DNA. These mutation result cells to spread uncontrollably and to continue invading normal cells would die. Accumulation of these cells can form a tumor which spreads to other organs and blood vessels.
What are the symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer?
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer very often do not manifest until it reaches the advanced stage. That is why pancreatic cancer is called “silent” disease. However, when cancer develops, symptoms may include the following:
- Pain in the upper abdomen generates from the tumor invades the nerves.
- Change of colour of skin and eye to yellow and urine colour also turns to yellow called jaundice can happen when cancer blocks the flow of bile.
- Loss of appetite, vomiting, and nausea with significant weight loss and weakness persist for a long period.
- New onset diabetes is also a harbinger of pancreatic cancer
What are treatments for Pancreatic Cancer?
Cancer treatment depends on the stage of cancer, health status, age and also on the diagnosis. If cancer is not metastasized, surgery is best option to cure. If cancer is detected at the early stage, a patient can be cured completely in many instances. Different type of surgery such as Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, total pancreatectomy are used to treat cancers in various parts of the pancreas. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are useful as additional therapies after surgery to prevent recurrence of tumour.